Directly off the tree, olives taste bitter. Don Landis has been de-bittering olives for all of us to eat for nearly two decades.
Growing up on Long Island, N.Y., he thought like most folks that “olives” were either the green ones stuffed with the red thing (pimento) or the black ones that came in a can.
In the mid 1990’s, Don and his wife Marian (AKA Oliveoyl) were at a pot luck dinner in Sonoma, California – a place where olives are grown in abundance. One of the diners brought a two-quart jar of her uncle’s home-made Olives. No one had tasted Olives like these before, including Don. With an Olive tree in his yard it was easy for Don to proclaim “I’m going to make Olives!”
Thus started Don’s journey into the world of Olives. He started learning and de-bittering. The first jog in the journey was three years later when Don was happy with his creations and started to share the Olives he de-bittered. Always looking for other “Olive people,” Don found like-minded folks in Northern California who knew what is so natural and understood all across the Mediterranean basin – that Olive making is lots of fun.
The search for more Olive people soon brought Don to the Sonoma Valley Olive Festival, but the festival turned out to be Olive Oil oriented. So with his knowledge of Olives and home de-bittering techniques, Don started presenting and earned a reputation and nickname of “The Olive Guy.”
One of Don’s other passions is sharing knowledge. Don found that many, many people had the desire to learn about Olives. So during the Sonoma Valley Olive Festival Don started to present Olive De-Bittering workshops. Year by year the crowds for his presentations grew. More event promoters and community groups asked Don to present his workshops.
Now, Don fuels his strong passion for Olives by offering several workshops during the year, private and public. He also provides consultations for those in need of Olive knowledge. It provides Don with joy and happiness that balances out the stress of work and life’s obligations.
His signature salutation says it all…”Happy Olives!”