The Oscar for Best Olive Oil
The truffle-flavored olive oil made by Fernando Pensato was awarded the gold medal at this year’s National Association for the Specialty Food Trade’s SOFI awards, prompting it to be profiled by celebrity chefs like Rachel Ray.
“Winning gold is sort of the food equivalent to taking home the Oscar,” says Sandy Butler’s Jason Nelson. “SOFI stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation and we were in competition with more than two thousand other items in 32 categories. To not only be recognized, but to win the gold is really a tremendous honor.”
While most shoppers know the Sandy Butler as the gourmet food market north of Fort Myers Beach, they are doing much more than running a fabulous store and restaurant. They’ve been on the cutting edge of the specialty food importing business since 2008 and it all started with their relationship with the Pensato family.
Fernando Pensato Sr. is a world famous innovator in high-fashion shoes. He brought us platform shoes made from cork in the 1970s, embellished our feet with Swarovski crystals in the 1980s, and spherical heels in the 1990s. All the while his family’s land in Puglia was covered in a vast olive grove, producing outstanding olive oil that the family usually gave away as gifts. When Fernando Pensato Jr. got the idea to make world-class olive oils he contacted the Sandy Butler Group and the partnership was forged.
With his mother’s artwork on the label, the Fernando Pensato olive oils have gained such respect they are used in the kitchen of the three-starred restaurant Le Bernardin in Manhattan. They’ve even been profiled by Oprah.
“We are the exclusive importer to the United States,” says Jason, “and we will only sell to great restaurants and small retailers. We don’t want these wonderful oils to be sold in big-box stores- they are very special and we understand that. That’s why our partnership with Pensato is so strong; because we won’t sell them out.”
Because the Sandy Butler Group is based right here in Fort Myers, it isn’t hard to find these award winning olive oils around town. In Estero, you can find the Pensato oils at the Lush Bakery at Broadway and U.S. 40. Further south you can find them at Wynn’s Market or Dolce e Salata in Naples. If the Truffle Extra Virgin Olive Oil is not for you, there are other flavors such as the silver medal winning lemon oil, which is superb with a simple slice of French bread. You can also try the basil, mandarin orange, or spicy peperoncino.
In Estero, you can find the Pensato oils at the Lush Bakery at Broadway and U.S. 40. Further south you can find them at Wynn’s Market or Dolce e Salata in Naples.