My Chocolate Mousse Wins in the Armonia International Olive Oil Competition

8 Dec

I received an email a few weeks ago from Roberta Muir (Sydney Seafood School Manager) announcing the 1st Armonia International Olive Oil Competition to be held in the Southern Hemisphere. The invitation was open to anyone who wanted to enter for a chance to compete. The condition was that olive oil must be the star ingredient and olive oil chocolate mousse immediately came to my mind. I was so excited when Roberta replied saying that I was in! I could hardly contain myself.

I made a trial batch of mousse at home and timed myself to make sure I could complete the dish within 2 hours and have it beautifully presented for the judges to taste.

When I arrived at the Sydney Seafood School on the 20th of November I met the other 9 contestants who were also passionate about food and cooking. The energy was building as we were ushered in to prepare and setup our equipment at the stations. I took all my own ingredients, except for the EVOO, and any special utensils and equipment needed including mum’s reliable old electric beater for good luck!

Sign setting up ingredients Beater

Gary Mehigan (MasterChef) and Alessandro Pavoni (Ormeggio at the Spit) were the judges and Mauro Martelossi (International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Agency Executive Director) and  Giovanni Pilu (Pilu at Freshwater) welcomed everyone and opened the competition.

Gary, Giovanni, Mauro, Alessandro

Opening competition

We tasted a variety of unlabelled EVOO and selected the ones we felt would work best with our dishes.

EVOO tasting

We began cooking and the judges circulated the room asking questions and marking us on various areas including organisation and cleanliness.

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

Gary took pictures of the dessert bowls I purchased especially for the competition. He was on the lookout for something to use at Fenix and said these would be perfect.

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography


Once my mousse was in the fridge I walked around the room to see what the other contestants were preparing. My senses were on overload with the scents and sounds of salmon poaching, cake baking, prawns sizzling and spaghetti boiling. It was like a beautiful symphony wafting through the air.

Chocolate mousse in the fridge

Spaghetti alle Vongole was the first dish completed and Alese, the contestant who cooked it, shared some with us while it was being tasted by the judges. It was absolutely delicious!

Spaghetti being cooked Cooking spaghetti

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography © Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

My Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse was next. 

Mousse is ready

I placed the bowls on the table in front of Gary, Alessandro, Mauro and Roberta and explained why I chose to prepare this dessert. “I don’t like very sweet desserts so I chose this because the olive oil adds a beautiful savoury element. The fresh raspberries add some tartness and the sprinkle of himalayan pink salt at the end brings out the notes in the chocolate and olive oil. I also added some pistachio dust and a drizzle of olive oil to finish.”

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

After I left the judges to try my mousse I ate some delicious poached salmon prepared by Kurt, freshly baked wholemeal focaccia and roasted vegetable salad by Antonella, salmon ceviche and octopus salad by Daniel, kale chips by Alison and olive oil cake by Katrina. The cake was so moreish and I found myself saying “this is my last piece” about 6 times!

Roasted tomatoes Roasted veg salad Salmon ceviche

Ross cooked a restaurant quality poached kingfish dish, Stefano made a seafood platter fit for a Roman king and Irena’s dish was a poached prawn salad that looked too good to eat.

Seafood platter Prawn Salad

We continued to eat and share recipes as we waited for the results. It was announced that we would find out at a ceremony held on the 3rd of December! We gathered together for some photos and wished each other good luck.

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography © Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography © Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

On the 3rd of December I joined my fellow food enthusiasts along with professional young chefs and olive oil producers. Awards were handed out to producers for several categories including packaging, organic and different varieties of olive oil. Congratulations to everyone but I must mention a few in particular.

Alto Olives which I see regularly at Eveleigh Markets on Saturdays,

Alto Olives

The Little General which I have posted about before (when ever I bump into Nadia we end up talking about the Festa Delle Salsicce in Griffith, yum!) and last but not least, Rylstone Olive Press. This is the mystery olive oil that I used for my chocolate mousse. They were all unlabelled, numbered bottles so we had no idea of the varieties or brands.

lucky number 21

One of the owners of Rylstone Olive Press, Jayne Bentivoglio, was at the ceremony and collected so many awards that I lost track! At one stage Jayne was asked by Joanna Savill (Director of The Sydney Morning Herald Sydney International Food Festival) to wait so she could collect a few awards at once before returning to her seat.

Jayne Award

Jayne invited Alese and I to visit the Rylstone Olive Press farm during harvest season (April – May) next year and prepare our dishes again using their oils. 2013 is going to be an exciting time!

Congratulations to all the chefs!

1st Kevin Nguyan – Quay  Restaurant (Confit of Bass Groper Cheek, Shaved Calamari, Shitake, Speck & Olive Oil Broth, Olive Oil Emulsion)

2nd Alexander Joslyn – Ormeggio  at  the  Spit (Olive Oil & White Chocolate Mousse, Olive Oil Powder, Biscuit, Yoghurt & Rhubarb Jelly)

Grand Mention Diplomas

Elizabeth Fiducia – Jamies  Italian, Sydney (White Chocolate and EVOO Risotto with Rosemary, Roasted Peaches and EVOO Pistachio Crumble)

Kyu Wang Lee – Balla  Restaurant (Poached Olive Oil Sword Fish with Asparagus Puree, Heirloom Tomato)

John Javier – Quay  Restaurant (Scampi, Macadamia, Chamomile and Olive Oil)

Peter Gilmore (Quay Restaurant) and Ross Lusted (The Bridge Room) were there to present the awards with Giovanni Pilu. Kevin was overcome with emotion when he realised that he was off to Italy for a week to attend the ALMA cuisine school. My eyes filled with tears when I saw how passionate Kevin was about the work he does with food because I feel the same spark.

Winning chef Chef announced Announcing chef

I’m not a chef but food stimulates my senses and makes me feel alive. The sensation of dough between my fingers, the fragrant notes in olive oil, the textures of food on my tongue – these experiences are as important to me as the breath in my lungs.

Alexander Joslyn showed me a picture of his dish which was an Olive Oil & White Chocolate Mousse (as mentioned above). We had much to talk about! I can’t wait for the upcoming “Young Chef’s” Showcase Dinner when I will have a chance to savour the dishes prepared by the chef contestants. I’ll be sharing a post about this special event in the coming weeks.

Alex, Giovanni, Ross, Mauro


Finally, the food enthusiast awards were announced.

3rd Alese  – Spaghetti alle Vongole

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

A.NZ.SA Olive Oil Championships Presentation

2nd Ross – Olive Oil Poached Yellowtail Kingfish with Asparagus and Lime Vinaigrette

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

A.NZ.SA Olive Oil Championships Presentation

1st my Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse

A.NZ.SA Olive Oil Championships Presentation A.NZ.SA Olive Oil Championships Presentation

I couldn’t believe my ears when it was announced. In 2013 I will attend a 5 day Professional Olive Oil Sommelier Course and cooking classes at Sydney Seafood School as my prize.

Award Trophy

I’m grateful to have been involved in such an amazing competition and to have met so many people who share my love of cooking and food in various capacities.

A.NZ.SA Olive Oil Championships Presentation

My passion for olive oil is not new but my interest to learn more about this complex natural ingredient is growing. During my holiday to Spain back in 2010 I visited an olive oil museum and went nuts! Everyone that I bought presents for received tins of olive oil and its surprising that customs didn’t stop me for questioning due to the high volume of oil I packed into my suitcase. No, not shoes, olive oil. 

IMG_5111 IMG_5113 IMG_5114 IMG_5119 IMG_5121 IMG_5123

I’ve experimented with my Spanish olive oil in recipes like Zucchini, Cocoa, Olive Oil and Walnut Cake. So by this stage, one question that may be on your lips – how did I make the mousse? The answer is…

150g good quality dark chocolate (I used Callebaut 53.8%)

100g extra virgin olive oil (again, make sure it’s a good quality oil. I used a medium fruity Rylstone Olive Press EVOO)

250g pouring cream

Fresh raspberries

Pistachio dust (finely ground pistachios)

Himalayan Pink Salt (fine)

A little more EVOO to drizzle at the end

Slowly melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. When smooth and glossy, mix through the olive oil until well combined. Set aside to cool slightly while you whip the cream until it reaches soft peaks.

Gently fold the cream into the chocolate and olive oil mixture. Don’t mix it too much or you’ll knock the air out of the cream and your mousse won’t be as light and fluffy. Serve at room temperature or put in the fridge to chill for an hour. If you leave it in the fridge for longer it will set firmly and the texture will become grainy due to the fat molecules in the olive oil solidifying. It will melt in your mouth but the texture won’t be smooth and silky.

I spooned the freshly mixed mousse straight into the individual dessert glasses before putting into the fridge. To serve, sprinkle with pistachio dust and just a little salt to bring out the chocolate and olive oil notes.

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

A few raspberries are perfect to add some tartness and cut through the richness of the mousse. I prefer to use fresh berries picked from my mum’s garden when there are enough of them ripe at once.

garden fresh berries raspberries

Drizzle with a touch of EVOO. Enjoy!

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

The professional photos I’ve shared in this blog post were taken by Lyndon Marceau and can be viewed here.

You can view a full list of the winners and awards here.


8 Responses to “My Chocolate Mousse Wins in the Armonia International Olive Oil Competition”

  1. helen December 8, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    I must try it! Congratulations again to a well deserving creative palette!

  2. Kate Middleton December 9, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    Fantastic! Next time you have to you use my olive oil + raspberries. Congratulations!

    • Gourmetician December 10, 2012 at 12:15 am #

      Thanks Kate! Will do. On my next trip to Italy I’ll visit and make the mousse 🙂

  3. Christine (@cookingcrusade) December 11, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    Congratulations! A very well deserved win and your recipe sounds great!

    • Gourmetician December 16, 2012 at 9:23 am #

      Thanks Christine 🙂


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