Cool Friends: Andrew Benin 

February 4, 2022

Meet Andrew, co-founder of our favorite new Olive Oil producer: Graza. We first discovered Graza juuuuuust in time to set a reminder for their first launch, and love the easy on the eyes, easy-to-squeeze packaging. We caught up with Andrew to hear how the dream of Graza became a reality.

How did you start your olive oil label, Graza?

I had taken some baby steps into the food community (Magic Spoon and staging at Gramercy Tavern), but the big leap was finally deciding to move to Spain. We usually romanticize such experiences in the Mediterranean, and our little capitalist minds try to bottle up the Southern European charm and sell it as a premium way of life stateside, with premium price tags. Truly, I was just observant of my wife's family in Cadiz, and they used olive oil SO liberally, so freely, so frequently in their cooking, it just stood out as the glue to all things in the kitchen. I had my mother-in-law teach me how to drive stick, and I drove all over Andalusia tasting olive oil at every farm / co-op that would let me in (most did thankfully). We then lugged suitcases filled with really fancy olive oil back to NYC, and I brought some for a tasting at Gramercy Tavern, and that's when some real magic happened. Mike, the head chef there, kind of put me in my place, and reminded me that we don't really need another ultra luxury small batch super expensive olive oil. They are cost prohibitive and don't increase the likelihood of most folks in the states choosing to cook with olive oil over unhealthier highly processed cooking fats. Soon after, Graza was born. The idea was to create a brand that provided the highest quality olive oil, at fair prices, in a way that everyone could enjoy it, no matter what they are cooking. The squeeze bottle was a total AHA moment, taking hints from friends in kitchens, and frankly adding some fun to a really stodgy industry. And then we were off to the races to make it happen! And with 2 years of hard work, we finally launched, using 100% picual olives, single origin, never blended oil, with two Sku's, which we believe empower all home cooks to get creative and exploratory in the kitchen, Sizzle for all your searing, cooking, baking, etc, and Drizzle, for all your finishing touches. What a ride.

What's your favorite part about the New York creative community?

Sheesh, probably the generosity and openness. I'll be frank with y'all, working with Gander was really my first foray into the creative community, but I quickly learned how a diverse set of talents can come together to create something amazing. I love that there is a process, and the challenge comes in trusting that process. It's not just throwing darts and hoping things stick. It's letting designers, illustrators, copywriters, UX designers, typographists, back end designers, etc., get in their flow and show their aptitude and take ownership of the brand.

What's inspiring you right now?

Cooking, incessantly cooking. You have to walk the walk, and I truly believe all you need is olive oil and a few ingredients, and you can host a pretty kick-ass dinner party. Plus I'm inspired by the folks who are on the Graza team. Everyone has taken such a strong sense of ownership and feels limitless into where this brand can go. We would always get asked by investors "so who is your target customer", and would always feel nervous responding with "well, really everyone". Right now, the Graza team is doing things differently and proving that we are for everyone.

Follow along:
@GetGraza on Instagram
@getgraza on Tik Tok

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Made in Brooklyn, NY