Food & Drink

Tidbits: Fresh comes first to olive oil purveyor from Maysville

Sharon Thompson
Sharon Thompson

Bill Sanders' search for a healthier diet led him "on the journey of a lifetime."

Sanders, who lives in Maysville, has been an "evangelist" for fresh extra-virgin olive oil since 1999, when he was living in Boulder, Colo. His mission is to change the way people think about olive oil and offer more Americans a fresh, authentic and affordable extra virgin olive oil.

"Because there are no mandatory standards for extra-virgin olive in the U.S., we have been the dumping ground for inferior and fraudulent olive oil," he said. "Sadly, these olive oils do not deliver the abundant health benefits that folks are seeking. My aim is to change that."

Sanders studied sensory evaluation of olive oil at the University of California, Davis, and in Tuscany.

"Over the years I have done consumer and associate educational awareness projects for food retailers, distributors and importers, such as Williams-Sonoma and Safeway," he said.

Two years ago, a close friend advised Sanders to create his own private-label olive oil. Sanders chose to use olive oil from California.

"California has stringent extra-virgin certification. To add the seal of 'Certified California Extra-Virgin' to the bottle, the oil must pass a blind tasting test of a professional panel and a chemical analysis from a certified laboratory," he said.

Sanders named his company First Fresh because that is the question consumers should be asking, he said.

"Rather than ask if the oil is extra-virgin or cold-pressed, the consumer is better served by asking about the harvest date," he said. "How fresh is the olive oil? Olive oil is fruit juice, and all fruit juices eventually go rancid."

Sanders recently added another olive oil to the First Fresh line. He is importing olive oil for his 3 Village Blend, which offers the three top olive oil varieties in three Mediterranean villages from the three largest olive oil-producing countries in the world: Koroneiki from Kalamata, Greece (Peloponnese); Arbequina from Écija, Spain (Andalusia); and Coratina from Andria, Italy (Puglia). This oil is intended to be the workhorse of the kitchen, he said.

First Fresh is an all-purpose extra-virgin olive oil that can be used for cooking, finishing, dipping and pesto. Drizzle over fresh tomatoes, pasta, cheese, grilled meats, fish and vegetables.

It's available at Good Foods Market & Café, Liquor Barn, Lexington Seafood, Wild Thyme Cooking School, and Wine + Market in Lexington; First Vineyard in Nicholasville; Marksbury Farm in Lancaster; Jon Carlofits' Rockcastle River Trading Co. in Livingston; and several stores and restaurants in Maysville. Retail price ranges from $12.99 to $21.99. Go to

Experiments are brewing

West Sixth Brewing Co., 501 West Sixth Street, is introducing an experimental series of beers.

"Since we've been having to dedicate more and more of our fermenter capacity to filling the huge demand we've seen for our West Sixth IPA and amber, we've been unable to fill the taproom taps with all of the different beers we've been dreaming up," co-owner Ben Self said. "So, we've decided to try something new and scale down — way down — to do some West Sixth experimental brews."

Each week on Wednesday and Friday, the company will release a small batch of a new beer, about 60 to 80 pints each. Call (859) 951-6006 or go to

Woodford Reserve classes

Woodford Reserve Distillery is offering classes on the flavor wheel and how to make culinary cocktails.

Chef-in-residence Ouita Michel will lead an advanced flavor wheel class from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 10. Guests will taste aged country ham, beer bread made using the Woodford Reserve Bourbon recipe, Parmesan cheese, fresh orange, dried cherry, toasted nuts, chocolate and sorghum. Michel will explain how the palate discerns and melds flavor, and the different flavors of Woodford Reserve bourbon.

The class is $50.

Art of the Culinary Cocktail in Summer is an introductory class on making culinary cocktails from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 3. A mixologist will explain the seasonal cocktail flavor wheel to introduce participants to flavors that go best with Woodford Reserve bourbon. Guests will taste peaches, honey, sorghum, savories, and herbs with Woodford Reserve, and learn how to use those ingredients to make culinary versions of classic summer cocktails.

For the event, Michel and her culinary team will prepare five new summer hors d'oeuvres, each designed to pair with a cocktail.

The class is $50.

A culinary cocktail kit is available for $79. It includes a 750ml bottle of Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select, mint julep sugar, cherry-infused bitters and a Manhattan rocks glass. Go to The distillery is at 7855 McCracken Pike, Versailles.

Who's your farmer hero?

If there's a local farmer who you admire for making contributions to the community and state, you may nominate him or her for a Local Food Hero award.

Seed Capital Kentucky, in conjunction with the state Department of Agriculture and Louisville Metro Government, has created the first Local Food Hero Award to raise awareness of the farmers responsible for growing the food we eat. The award will honor farmers for their dedicated work building Kentucky's local food economy. The award will be presented at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville in August.

Go to by midnight July 31 to vote for the first Local Food Hero Awards.