Lake Mary Local Legend: The Olive Pantry – Bringing High-Quality Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar to Lake Mary

Who knew Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar could be so complex?

Walking into The Olive Pantry, I was quickly greeted with a smile by Kevin. With more than six years of experience dealing with high-quality oil and vinegar, he was eager to teach me about the depth of flavor they possess.

Samples were offered, and indeed, samples were consumed. From robust to mild, baklouti green chile-infused, blood orange-infused, garlic-infused and more.

It truly is beautiful to see the stark difference in taste that these oils and vinegar possess. It’s so predominant that they can be used as sauces on their own.

So I implore you, if you’re curious about high-quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar, are interested in expanding your palate, or simply want to drop by for a truly unique experience, you should stop by the Olive Pantry in Lake Mary.

A true local legend.

What is your name and role at the shop?

Kevin- My name is Kevin Gosnell, I work here and own the store at the Olive Pantry, it’s a small store I own with my family and we specialize in extra virgin oils, balsamic vinegars, and a lot of tasty food products. I really like to find the best flavors available.

What was your first job?

Kevin- My first job actually was the day I turned 16, I started at the Winter Park Racquet Club and I was the person they told to do everything they didn’t want to do. I worked in the pro shop and strung a lot of tennis rackets.

How did the Olive Pantry come to fruition?

Kevin- Funnily enough, the reason we hoped an oil and vinegar was that my dad and I were working on different kinds of food products years back and before we could enter the market we had to find a licensed commercial kitchen. We looked all over, commissary kitchens, nothing would really work out for us. Around the same time, a friend of his had just opened the shop, they had to get out for personal reasons. But it lined up, there was a kitchen available, we bought the store and took over and that was 6 years ago now.

What do you wish people knew about oil and vinegar?

Kevin- Primarily, that most olive oils you get in the grocery store, it’s terrible. It’s either not extra virgin olive oil, it’s been mixed with other things, cut with canola oil, something we see pretty often. If you find a really good olive oil, the flavor is like nothing you’ve had before, it’s green and grassy, a little peppery in the back of the throat it’s totally different than what most people think about. Balsamic vinegars, most people have a good idea of what they are, but when they try our flavors it opens up a whole new world to them, it’s so versatile any kind of flavor you like it’s almost like painters palate, add a little dash of this, a touch of that and you can customize and create the dish you’re looking for. It’s really cool.

How did COVID affect your business?

Kevin – Weirdly enough, it led to one of the busiest seasons we’ve ever had but it really destroyed all sort of predictability, all the trends we’ve noticed, all that went out the window. Now it can be any time of the day, any day of the week, but overall, busier. People have been really great here, they love us and word of mouth has been huge, they have come out and really tried to support local businesses, ourselves included and we couldn’t be any more thankful.

If you could only have one oil and vinegar pairing, what would it be?

Kevin- How do you pick that? Who’s your favorite child? Your favorite breath of air? I would go with a high-quality robust, unflavored, extra virgin olive oil it’s very versatile and I love our Neapolitan herb balsamic it’s a little more on the savory side so it works with more of the dishes I like, just a very traditional blend of Italian herbs a nice little vinegar kick. That would be my choice!

What do you do when you’re not working?

Kevin – I like to do a few things, primarily my current passion is weightlifting, I built a little home gym so I will be in there 3 times a week at least. I’ve found it’s the most effective way to get stronger, healthier, it’s therapeutic. I leave there and I feel amazing, I also like to read though, I started a new book on the Fall of Constantinople, very interesting to history nerds like me. I like to hang out with my roommates, go on bike rides, I have a little fixed gear bike that’s a lot of fun. And long walks on the beach, mimosas, and getting caught in the rain.

What makes your products unique?

Kevin- The quality. Most olive oils you’ll find in the grocery store, if they’re even the extra virgin olive oil they claim that they are will be way out of date. You want the freshest as possible for extra virgin olive oils, so we get ours from a family out in California, they’re the ones who source it across the world. We’ve met them, we trust them implicitly and we sample everything that comes in the door, so that’s the biggest difference. It’s going to be fresh olive oil, incredibly high quality, and we let you sample everything in the store too so you know you’re going to like what you get before you leave.

What makes Lake Mary special?

Kevin – The sense of community. I grew up not far from here but I’d never really been in this area too often, we’ve been here six years now and people know us by name, they bring their families from out of town who are visiting to come to see us and talk to us. I’ve never experienced that kind of closeness in the region before, it’s really nice, refreshing.

Why should we come to the Olive Pantry?

Kevin- Because we have incredible flavors and we’ll do everything we can to find something you absolutely love. Nothing makes my day more than giving someone a sample, and their face lighting up when it, changes their life is maybe a bold statement, but it feels like that.

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