It was not all business at the successful meeting of the IOC Advisory Committee on Olive Oil and Table Olives held in Marseille at the kind invitation of the French association AFIDOL. There was also time for a simple ceremony intended to honour the committee chairman and its two vice chairmen.
At the end of the gala dinner hosted by AFIDOL on the evening of 8 July, the French Association des compagnons de l’olivier du Pays d’Aix held an investiture ceremony in which Ali Ben Hadj M’Barek from Tunisia, Panayotis Karantonis from Greece and Marino Melissano from Italy were made Knights of France’s Confrérie des Chevaliers de l’Olivier, the chivalrous brotherhood dedicated to creating a network of goodwill ambassadors to defend and spread the word about olives and olive oil. Surrounded by members of the brotherhood attired in their distinctive green velvet cloaks and hats adorned with an olive sprig, the initiates were read out a solemn oath, which they swore to keep, sealing their promise with olive oil dipped in bread. The three initiates were then dubbed with an olive branch and presented with the medal of the order.
Based in Nyons, the home of France’s famous black Tanche olive the brotherhood boasts a long list of illustrious knights, past and present, from the worlds of literature (French writer Jean Giono, also an excellent olive farmer), performing arts (Annie Girardot, Yves Montand, Shirley MacLaine), politics (Edgar Faure and numerous foreign ambassadors), music (Jean Amadou, Pierre Perret) and many other areas. Interestingly, one of the three men behind the foundation of the brotherhood back in 1964 was Pierre Bonnet, the Executive Director of the International Olive Council from 1960 to 1962.
The motto of the brotherhood is Ne extra olea
(Let us not be estranged from the olive tree)
About the Advisory Committee officers
Ali Ben Hadj M’Barek, currently Chief Officer of the National Olive Oil Board in Sousse, was AC vice chairman from 1992 until 1995, and then chairman from 1997 until 2000, and later from 2010 until now. Panayotis Karantonis is the Director of the Athens-based Greek Association of Olive Oil Processors and Packers (ESVITE) and has been the vice chairman of the Olive Oil Section of the AC since 2006. Mr Melissano, National Vice President of the Altroconsumo Consumer Committee, has held the vice chair of the Table Olive Section likewise since 2006. All three committee officers have been members of the AC since it was first set up in 1991.