To import it, Cononelos works with only two olive oil co-ops in Greece. “You have to be careful who you buy from,” he says, alluding to reports of adulteration in olive oil. “Every batch that’s exported is tested before it leaves Greece.”
A big break in Mani Import’s early years came from deciding to pit kalamatas.
“It just exploded,” Cononelos says of this new product. “At the time, the kalamata was just a table olive. We pitted them in Sacramento. That opened the door for kalamata olives in salad bars, breads and pizzas.”
Mani Imports sales rep Glenn Waddell, 48, the chef who opened Tower Café and later headed the kitchen at Tapa the World, also doubles as Mani’s corporate chef.
“At the Berkeley Bowl, 85 percent of the olives are from Mani,” Waddell says. “Every olive at the olive bar at the Davis Co-op is from Mani. And at just about every olive bar in Sonoma, Napa, St. Helena and Calistoga – that’s us, too.”
Mani’s olives are found in bread from many commercial bakeries, including Safeway and Costco, and also in artisanal breads from Grace Baking Co. (Richmond), Acme (Bay Area), Il Fornaio restaurants, Truckee Sourdough Co., and Sacramento’s Grateful Bread Co.Ah, Greece, Islands, Beaches, The Mediterranean Diet and People who live to 101,