Updated: Sep 29
Berk Baheci is the founder of Heraclea Olive Oil, a venture stemming from the roots of his family 100 year old olive grove in Turkey. Spanning over 100 acres, it’s a place of wild and mountainous land. For centuries, the groves neighbor, Mount Latmos, has preserved a way of life that is simple and connected to the land. But, climate change, exploitative growing practices and mechanized labor has brought change to the soil and Berk's family grove. With a mission to get back to the way things had been done and reconnect with the essentials, Berk founded Heraclea.
At the olives peak Berks team collects their Memecik varietal olive–an olive known for its strong fruity aroma of olive leaf, chicory, green apple and banana. They're then pressed and turned into Heraclea's signature olive oil that is certified organic, fair trade, and PDO certified.
Chefs for Impact is proud to partner with Berk and Heraclea to showcase their incredible Olive Oil at our dinner on Oct. 27th and through our limited edition Olive Oil Tin collaboration illustrated by Nancy Pappas.
Welcome Berk to Chefs for Impact!
By Berk Baheci as told to Chefs for Impact
You left your career as a lawyer to pursue reviving your family's olive oil business. What was the catalyst for this big decision?
Taking the leap from law to olive oil was indeed a pivotal moment. Ever since I was young, I've been a dreamer. I always yearned for a career that stirred passion within me every single day. While law was intellectually stimulating, there was a longing for something more profound. My family's olive oil legacy always remained close to my heart, and the idea of Heraclea provided the passion I was looking for. That deep-seated desire to reconnect with my roots and make a meaningful impact was the true catalyst.
What do people not realize about olive oil production that is important for them to know?
Many overlook the intricate details of olive oil production. It's essential to know whether a company is directly involved in the production or merely reselling. Factors like pressing temperature, storage conditions, humidity control, and oxygen exposure can greatly influence the oil's quality. A company genuinely committed to offering top-notch olive oil wouldn't compromise on these specifics. The intricacies matter and it's what differentiates an average product from an exceptional one.
What makes Heraclea’s olive oil production more sustainable than other brands?
We're deeply committed to sustainability. While olive oil is undeniably beneficial for health, its production can strain the environment if not handled responsibly. We shun harmful fertilizers, relying on natural alternatives to nurture our soil and trees. Regions abundant in olive production often face water scarcity. To counter this, we've adopted rainwater harvesting. Superhigh-density farms, which are essentially monocrops, wreak havoc on ecosystems. We vehemently oppose this practice. At Heraclea, we meticulously plan even the minutiae, like optimizing transportation between our groves and mills to reduce diesel consumption. Additionally, our plants are powered by solar energy. It's these collective efforts that truly set us apart.
Why was it important for Heraclea to collaborate with Chefs for Impact?
Collaborating with Chefs for Impact (C4I) was a significant milestone for Heraclea. Both our organizations share an unwavering commitment to sustainability. With C4I's endeavors in emphasizing a sustainable food chain and youth education, the collaboration felt organic. Being aligned in our values, especially with both of us being members of the 1% for the Planet, only strengthened our resolve to work together.
What do you want people to know about Heraclea that they may not already?
Heraclea isn't just another olive oil brand. We're on a mission to revolutionize the industry. We aim to enlighten consumers about what truly defines premium olive oil. Moreover, we're determined to showcase a production process that respects both the environment and the key players in the industry – the farmers and producers. We believe in transparency, sustainability, and ensuring that the faces behind the scenes get their due recognition.