This past Christmas, a new kiosk was spotted in Park Place Shopping Centre. This is where Humble Olive Tasting Bar was introduced to Lethbridge thanks to owner, Jim Pizzingrilli. In the New Year, Pizzingrilli was able to find a location downtown to open up shop permanently.
Pizzingrilli was raised in Lethbridge and decided to take the business program in Lethbridge.
After graduating, he made his way to Edmonton, where he opened an indie record store on Jasper Avenue. Pizzingrilli decided to close after 12 years due to the digital direction CD’s and DVD’s were going. He then moved to Nanaimo B.C. where he worked as a rep for Kraft.
Longing to be self-employed again, Pizzingrilli was inspired when he found himself in an olive tasting bar in 2012. With just one taste he was hooked and wanted to open his very own.
Due to his Lethbridge roots, Pizzingrilli moved back and opened Humble Olive Tasting Bar. This led to opening a storefront in our very own downtown.
Jim didn’t hesitate when asked if he made a conscious decision to find a downtown location.
“If there wasn’t support or the community trying to revitalize the downtown, than I might of chose a different location.”
He opened his doors right next to King of Trade, which his sister and brother-in-law took over for their father who was the founder of King of Trade. Being surrounded by entrepreneurs and business owners, it felt only natural for Pizzingrilli to have his very own.
It was important to Pizzingrilli to provide a high quality and great tasting product to the community. He obtains his product from a supplier in California, who have personal relationships with farmers around the world who grow the product.
“The company that I go through have contracts with individual farms to the oil or balsamic vinegar, which is the highest of quality.“
The product is then analyzed and undergoes testing to ensure it’s in its purest form.
“There is a huge amount of fraud in the olive oil industry,” Pizzingrilli admits.
The University of California conducted a study and found 69 per cent of imported olive oil samples and 10 percent of California olive oil samples labeled as extra virgin failed to meet the IOC/USDA standards for extra virgin olive oil (UC Davis Report, Frankel, E.N.).
Producers will adulterate the product with other oils like canola oil or add colouring to make it look green.
“It has a shelf like of two years but a lot of these oils have been sitting in warehouses for over a year,” says Pizzingrilli.
He added that when a lot of people taste olive oil, they aren’t aware of what a good quality olive oil tastes like because they aren’t used to it.
This is why Humble Olive brings something unique to Lethbridge. The tasting bar gives customers the option to try an olive oil or balsamic vinegar prior to purchasing the product.
Giving people the opportunity to taste high quality olive oil or balsamic vinegar and seeing their positive reactions is what makes everything worth it to Pizzingrilli.
Humble Olive has a variety of olive oils infused with ingredients like garlic or basil. The balsamic vinegar selection is endless, which include flavours like coconut, pear, black currant and truffle.
“It’s like an adult candy store,” laughs Pizzingrilli.
I was personally blown away after sampling the white coconut balsamic vinegar. It was rich in flavour and I could taste the quality. To put it simply, I have never had anything like it in my life.
Pizzingrilli says it’s recommended to take a tablespoon of olive oil a day because there are a lot of antioxidants including polyphenols.
Polyphenols are macronutrients containing antioxidants that tend to prevent or neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals in our bodies.
It’s just the beginning for Humble Olive Tasting Bar. As the shop continues to improve its clientele, it will make it easier to add more to the shop.
Pizzingrilli is making it priority to support other local businesses and sell their products in store.
“I want to be a positive place in the community.”
From the many smiles I saw walk through the door, Humble Olive Tasting Bar is doing just that.