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Welcome to Neff's Kitchen History.

A Neff kitchen is full of inspiration. For over 135 years, we've been developing kitchen appliances for people with a passion for cooking. These are the people who inspire our greatest ideas. We share a love for nutritious ingredients, good food and cooking enthusiasm. And because Cookaholics are always on the lookout for new inspiration, we're happy to provide some here.

These are the stories that look beyond the plate to the people who inspire us with their passion for good food. Neff invites you to the table. Bon appétit!

A passion
for oil


Olive oil isn't just a food. It’s liquid longing, reminding us of balmy summer nights in a secluded trattoria. It’s sun, sea, ancient gnarled trees and tanned faces. When we drizzle this golden oil onto our salad or pasta, we’re pouring out the dream of a simple, healthy life.

The land where olive trees bloom

In the southwest corner of Catalonia, in the gentle lowlands between the rugged Prades Mountains, the Priorat vineyards and the Costa Daurada, the fertile olive groves of Baix Camp grow on a stretch of land only 20 kilometres wide.
Right in the middle lies the small town of Riudoms. Salvador Dalí spent his summers just around the corner at the coastal town of Cambrils. It is here that Josep-Maria Mallafré is perfecting the art of olive oil production.

From the start of November onwards, Josep Maria Mallafré’s mill is working flat out.


Long past sunset, the harvest tractors are still queueing with their fresh loads. As soon as the sun sinks below the horizon, you can see their flashing hazard lights passing through the fields and villages. Despite the brisk activity at the farm and the waiting time, there's no stress. People around here know one another and enjoy working and dining together. On cold days Josep Maria’s mother lights the wood-fired oven in the small hall and serves tapas with wine. There's always plenty to talk about. There is just as much discussion about how the new manager of FC Barcelona is faring as there is about the latest initiative from the Catalonian independence movement!
The Mallafres’s mill is truly a sight to behold. With a couple of old millstones and heavy cast-iron presses, the mechanics of the mill are reminders of a previous era. An era when Josep Maria’s grandfather, who established the mill, had to flee to France with his family to escape Franco’s troops. To ensure that he didn’t lose the mill to the military regime, the staunch Republican regularly sent his small son, Josep Maria’s father, across the border to check that everything was alright in Riudoms. Because he was a child, he didn’t need to show any identification papers and was therefore able to carry out his father’s instructions unhindered. The family later returned to the mill. Josep Maria’s father took control of the company and expanded the operation. "My father was the mill. The most important thing he gave me was his passion." Josep Maria points to a black-and-white photo on the wall. It shows three men in dirty work overalls between high stacks of straw mats on which they're spreading ground olive paste.
A huge olive press stands in the background. One of the men is looking directly at the camera. That's his father. For a brief moment, the normally lively Josep Maria appears pensive. When his father died in a car accident nine years ago, he had to take over the running of the mill overnight.
It was a hard blow for the family and for the company. Josep Maria kept his father’s enthusiasm, but has changed many other things. A new mill has been standing beside the older machines for quite some time. It's smaller than the old mill and is made of shiny stainless steel. "Tradition is important to us, but not as important as the quality of the oil," he says with a shrug. The technique used for oil production remained virtually unchanged until the 1990s.
Traditionally, the leaves and dirt were removed from the olives so that they could then be crushed into a paste by two revolving millstones. The paste was then spread across several layers of straw mats, which were pressed together by a huge machine. The oil ran down the sides of the stacks of mats and was collected. For a long time, many producers fought against new methods. For as long as they could remember, this was the way it was done. Rather than a simple production process, they saw it as a cultural activity that had to be preserved. Josep Maria had other ideas - or maybe just a little more courage. He was the first oil producer in Spain to make flavoured oils. It caused outrage amongst local olive traditionalists. Even his mother was sceptical at first. He integrated herbs and spices into the pressing process, something that had never been done before. However, it turned out to be very successful and today he sells his flavoured oils throughout the world.

He has since won over his critics, in part because he has succeeded in building a bridge between tradition and the future of olive oil. He uses the latest scientific knowledge to tweak the process and improve the quality of the oil. Thanks to the new mill, farmers can once again produce their own single-sort olive oil - just like in the old days, except the quality is even better. It’s a nice reinterpretation of an old tradition. Overall he promotes a new way to view olive oil:

We have to treat it exactly like wine.


"We have to treat it exactly like wine. The taste of wine differs according to the harvest period, grape variety, location and terrain. Olive oil is no different. Each oil also has its own characteristics that we must learn to appreciate.“
At the bottling plant, the first bottles are now filled manually. A thick stream of bright green liquid flows from the steel tank into the labelled bottles. “At the beginning of the harvest, the olives are still very green and bitter-tasting,” says Josep Maria. “We call the oil we extract 'Primario'."
It has a very fruity, grassy, pungent flavour. It’s like new-harvest wine, the 'vin bourru' or 'Federweisser'. Because it isn’t centrifuged, it’s rich in suspended fruit particles. And like Federweisser, it must be enjoyed fresh. Later, when the bright autumn sun has turned the fruit darker and ripened it more, the oil tastes milder and riper. One sip and it's obvious that this oil has very little in common with oil from the supermarket. It tastes more like fruit juice than oil. Delicious.

He was the first oil producer in Spain to make flavoured oils - causing outrage amongst local olive traditionalists.


Drizzle fresh oil onto a piece of toasted bread with tomatoes and garlic and you have 'Pan Catalan', served here before every meal."

Josep-Maria grins.


Many people forget that the olive is a fruit, just like an apple. Freshly squeezed juice from one type of apple tastes better than the sweetened juices produced on an industrial scale. Unfortunately, most people are accustomed to relatively low-quality oil. In many restaurants, the oil has been standing on the table a little too long," he says with a smile. "So of course it's a bit off. How would you expect it to taste?“

The Captain and his trees


Josep Maria Mir-Folch is truly passionate about two things; the sea and home-grown olive oil. During his decades as a captain he set sail many times, always to return to his Massia, the country estate his family has occupied for centuries. Over time, the estate has witnessed shifts and changes, but it has always been Josep Maria Mir-Folch's home. This is where he cultivates his passion for olives. Most of the trees are older than he is, and some of these Methuselahs have been sending their roots down into the groves of the Massia for well over a century. They still bear plenty of fruit and, like any other olive tree, some years are better and some are worse. Josep Maria Mir-Folch still does most of the harvesting himself - by hand, of course, of which he is proud. Finally the olives are made into oil, a task he entrusts only to Josep-Maria Mallafré.
Whereas many other mills combine the harvests of many different farmers when they press oil, Mallafré produces single-sort, personalised oil from individual harvests. Josep Maria Mir-Folch is generous with his own oil and gives it away freely to his friends. He also serves it to guests who are taking a brief holiday in one the tower rooms he has recently renovated.
© BSH Home Appliances Ltd 2016
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