Interview with Roi on Pouring Passion & Curiosity into Olive Oil Production

Interview with Roi on Pouring Passion & Curiosity into Olive Oil Production

For five generations, the Boeri family – historically nicknamed “Roi” – has devoted itself to sharing the flavors of the Ligurian coast through the production of olive oil, pesto, and beyond. The family’s story began in 1890, when Giuseppe Boeri first rented a communal olive oil mill in the hills of Liguria to process local Taggiasca olives using a traditional stone press. These early activities became the roots of what would become a long and beautiful family journey that continues to this day with Paolo who, alongside his father, dedicates his time and passion to the family oil mill.

Grown on narrow terraces about 1,150 feet above sea level in the Valle Argentina – just inland of Sanremo on the Ligurian Sea – the olive trees enjoy a mild climate surrounded by Mediterranean shrubs, chestnut trees, and wild herbs. It's a steep and difficult terrain, where everything is still cultivated and hand-harvested by the team at Roi, who carefully tend to the entire process, pouring passion and curiosity into each activity. "I chose to do this job out of passion and I continue like this every day," Paolo Boeri Roi tells Eataly Magazine"I think the food industry is the best market to work in, if not the best – certainly the most enjoyable. Having the opportunity to travel, meet people and taste dishes and products every day of your life makes it beautiful, full and always interesting."

As part of Eataly's spring campaign honoring our producers and their craft, we spoke with Paolo Boeri Roi about the origins of Roi, the deep passion he has for his craft, and the future of working in the food industry.

Roi-Interview-Spring-Campaign-Eataly-X

Eataly Magazine: Can you briefly introduce the origins of Roi, its history and heritage, and the deep passion that has gone into building the brand over generations?

Paolo Boeri Roi: Roi is the historical nickname of our family. We were born here in Badalucco, in West Liguria, as oil producers around 1890. Our family was in charge of transforming olives into oil and selling the production to large industries in Imperia (the city of oil).

In the 1980s, my father decided to change and began to bottle the oil directly to sell it to restaurants and shops in the area. Unfortunately, it became difficult to sell the product because almost everyone already had a supplier, or directly produced olive oil. During a party, he met Stephan – a German guy. They quickly become friends and start fantasizing about the possibility of selling this precious product in Germany. They passed from words to deeds shortly thereafter, and it was there that our brand was really born.

Today we are in the fifth generation with me, Paolo, and from Germany. Thanks to years of hard work and fun, we have come to serve 45 nations around the world!

Roi-Interview-Spring-Campaign-Eataly-03

Tell us about your enthusiasm and passion for your work. What do you find most fulfilling? What keeps you curious?

I chose to do this job out of passion and I continue like this every day. I am of the opinion that getting up every morning and doing something you don't like is the worst of the worst. I consider myself lucky – I was able to choose to work in a sector that I really like and gives me the opportunity to innovate and create. Together with this, selling in 45 countries gives me the opportunity to travel a lot, meet new people and exchange experiences. It's constant growth for the mind. I remain curious because life is always full of challenges. It gives me the opportunity to launch into new projects, to differentiate and avoid falling into monotony.

Roi-Interview-Spring-Campaign-Eataly-03

Where are Roi products born? What aspects of this land are most unique?

Roi products are born in Badalucco, from the mind of our family. This small town remains nestled in the Argentina Valley, so called because of the color of the olive leaves. It's a steep and difficult territory, where everything is still cultivated and harvested by hand. We study each product almost 100% internally, from the design to the actual composition. We like to transform an idea, crazy or not, into reality and hear what our customers think about it. By managing everything internally, we are sure that the product is original. The Valley, with its tranquility, helps us to always create new things!

Roi-Interview-Spring-Campaign-Eataly-03

What skills and qualities are important for those involved in the oil milling production process? What does the training process entail?

There are several qualities necessary to be a good olive miller, but knowing how to observe is certainly very important. The selection of the olives that arrive at the mill is still done “by hand” today. This is why the eye and experience become very important. Thanks to a careful eye, you will be able to find the best olives for brine, for example, while experience will ensure that the purchase price is always right.

Roi-Interview-Spring-Campaign-Eataly-03

(continued) The nose and sensitivity are also part of the job. During processing, the olives must always be processed clean, keeping temperatures and times well controlled. The faster we work, the better it is for the oil. The olives must never stand still. It is important to process them as soon as they are received at the mill.

To become a “Frantoiano” there is no real school – it is a profession handed down from father to son or, in any case, something that you learn by doing. For example, our manager for years lived in the oil mill with my grandfather and my father, treasuring the various secrets. Today, all these years of attention have led him to be able to independently manage the mill, while my father buys and selects the olives, and I take care of the sales.

Roi-Interview-Spring-Campaign-Eataly-03

How important is it for Roi to continue to maintain close ties to its past? What aspects of the company today are still linked to its roots?

It is very important for us to maintain a link with the past. You can't have great hair without having strong roots, to put it naturally. Our past has taught us the job that we continue to do today. Technology proceeds and never stops, like our research, but knowing well what “it used to be” makes us strong. Our town, Badalucco, continues to be our home, as it once was, and we have no intention of abandoning it.

Roi-Interview-Spring-Campaign-Eataly-03

What excites you about the future of working in the food industry? Would you encourage younger generations to become involved in the food-making process and pursue this passion?

I think the food industry is the best market to work in, if not the best – certainly the most enjoyable. Having the opportunity to travel, meet people and taste dishes and products every day of your life makes it beautiful, full and always interesting. Being able to enjoy good wine, a good dish cooked with love, while listening to the stories of a producer, a cook or a friend... There is something unmatched in all of this and I consider myself very lucky to be part of this world.

Roi-Interview-Spring-Campaign-Eataly-03

Roi-Interview-Spring-Campaign-Eataly-03

Roi-Interview-Spring-Campaign-Eataly-03