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The Power of Food: How Patrick Karsu’s et Oliva Startup Disrupts Convention to Bring People Together

Food, cooking, dining, eating—it all carries so much meaning for Patrick Karsu.  

“There’s a bond between the cook and the eater, which is so important—that’s why we have restaurants; that’s why we have this culture devoted to food,” he said. “But at the same time, people spend so much time watching cooking shows, and many of them never actually take the time to learn to do it themselves.” 

As CEO, Founder and Executive Chef at the et Oliva Mediterranean food brand, Patrick wants to bridge this gap while disrupting the food industry for the better. 

“We want to use our products as a vehicle to reconnect with each other, and reconnect over food, because it’s at that table that we share our histories, we share our culture, we share gossip, we share our tragedies, our celebration—all of this is focused around food,” Patrick said. 

All of this comes together for Patrick and food lovers through et Oliva, an emerging, independent, LGBTQ-owned company inspired by the food and drink of Turkey and focused on social justice, food security, ESG and philanthropy. 

“Cooking for someone still remains one of the most intimate acts,” Patrick said, “and that is something we really want to convey with this brand.”

He added, “First and foremost, my food is my love language.”

While sharing their passion for food, Patrick and his team remain firmly entrenched in issues of the day. 

et Oliva was launched in response to COVID pandemic isolation; and, earlier this year the company donated inventory to help victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Along with the pandemic isolation, Patrick was inspired to launch et Oliva by travel to Turkey with his partner, whose family’s roots can be traced to that country. 

But as he worked “to help us all reconnect through the power of great food,” Patrick grew frustrated while searching for products that captured the culinary imagination of what he had experienced while visiting the Mediterranean region.

Processed to the point of blandness and infused with too many fillers and preservatives, commercial options fell flat. These shortcomings inspired Patrick to launch et Oliva and change people’s perceptions of modern Turkish and Aegean food. Patrick and his team are also reimagining Mediterranean cuisine and the dynamic between those who prepare it and those who eat it. 

At the heart of et Oliva is what Patrick describes as the brand’s goal of capturing, “the flavors of the sun-dappled shores of the Aegean.” The food—just like the support of the earthquake victims—is an homage to the Turkish roots of Patrick’s partner. 

Olive tapenade with an eastern Mediterranean flair anyone? The citrus and warming spices, including cinnamon and Star anise, are alluring. How about some fig and olive jam? The et Oliva roasted red pepper ezme is most versatile. And then there is the et Oliva lavash cracker line—Patrick’s personal recipe—that emerged in response to these spreads. 

et Oliva—available soon at Macys.com and Gelson’s in Los Angeles—draws its inspiration from the mezze style of dining, which revolves around small plates designed to stimulate the appetite.

“We want to become a luxury brand,” said Patrick, who worked as an impact investor for five years. “But we also want it to be approachable.” 

Now that he has taken the business from table top accelerator model to full out manufacturing and distribution, Patrick is also looking to develop a C-Suite to manage day-to-day operations and establish a vision for the company. 

With a goal of netting out to more than $500K within the next year, while doubling down on sales, et Oliva is poised to become a steady presence in specialty shops, national franchises and, the ultimate destination, on dinner tables in private homes. 

Future plans also call for continued sustainability efforts and using local businesses and products as exclusively as possible. et Oliva is also focused on taking a leadership role in the LGBTQ community, through work with nonprofits that provide job placement, education and housing for LGBTQ youth and young adults at risk. 

“What we need to do is be a catalyst of positive change,” Patrick said. “It’s because somebody gave back to me that I was able to start my business, and I want to return the favor. You can’t just take. We wanted  to bake this into our business model early on.”

Visit etoliva.com to learn more. 

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