Our Dedicated Staff
Our employees are a big part of the success at F. Oliver’s! We’re connected by a love of food, an eagerness to learn, and a passion to share with our fellow employees and customers. And if our shared passion for food and cooking group us together, our diversity in interests make us each distinct and unique. We kindly invite you to learn a bit more about us:
About the Proprietor, Penelope Pankow
F. Oliver’s is the culmination of proprietor Penelope Pankow’s lifelong love of good food, the company of friends and family, and the desire to run her own business.
After a long career in corporate America, Penelope returned to school in 2006 and graduated with a master’s degree in hospitality management from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.
Penelope is excited to share the flavorful and interactive atmosphere of F. Oliver’s with new and old friends and to become a vital part of the locales F. Oliver’s call home.
Emma Cambalik, Store and Special Events Manager
Emma was introduced to F. Oliver’s when she and her father were walking around downtown Canandaigua. They had heard the rave reviews about the store and decided to go in. Emma was impressed by the hospitality and extensive tastings offered. It was like nothing she had ever seen or tasted before. Wowed by her experience, Emma began incorporating F. Oliver’s products into her cooking. Once she joined the team during the hustle and bustle of the holidays, she could not imagine leaving.
Based on Emma’s background in restaurants, food science, and winemaking, dining experiences have become a centerfold of her life. She thoroughly enjoys assisting customers discover new ways to incorporate F. Oliver’s products into their everyday cooking. While she loves opening up the minds of people who come into the store to the unlimited possibilities of F. Oliver’s products, she most enjoys learning from her customers: “I love to ask customers how THEY use the products – most of the time it’s a use I have never even thought of!”.
Having spent a significant part of her life in Canandaigua, the Main Street location feels like home. “Canandaigua is a great visitor destination, so you never know who is going to walk through the door (and that is what makes every customer particularly unique)”. Emma is passionate about giving back to the community and spreading the word about F. Oliver’s fantastic ultra premium EVOO’s, balsamic vinegars, spices and spice blends. “This is a foodie’s dream job- working with high-quality products and encouraging customers to live flavorful, healthful lives every single day”.
Leah C. Wolanski, Store and Special Events Manager
Leah first encountered F. Olivers on a quiet, sunny day while strolling down Park Avenue looking for a fun and fruity balsamic to use over homegrown tomatoes. She was, “met with a warm greeting and an incredible tasting experience. I was completely inspired by the flavors and qualities of the oils. I took home a bottle of Farmstand Strawberry Balsamic and Fresh Bright Basil EVOO and indulged in a Caprese salad with an exciting twist.”
Leah hospitality background, working in a five-star hotel prior to joining the F. Oliver’s team, drives her to to create a quality experience for every customer. She loves guiding guests through the tasting experience and is very adept at understanding their tastes and anticipating their needs. “I like to talk to customers about food items they already enjoy cooking and eating, finding ways to elevate those flavors using ultra premium EVOO, balsamic vinegars, herbs, spices, and blends. For example, if someone is a fan of oven roasted root vegetables, I tell them to try them with the Smoky Chipotle EVOO, Maple Balsamic, and a bit of Adirondack Maple Seasoning.”
She loves her Park Avenue location, “Rochester is a fairly large city which allows us to diversify how we offer our products to customers. The community of Greater Rochester is full of people who care about their food. Whether we’re working with a local chef to provide ultra premium EVOO, a customer who cares about all natural balsamic vinegars, or with local organizations like Foodlink to come together for charity events, we help to highlight the importance of all natural, high quality foods to a healthy community.”
Courtney W. C. Stees, Store and Special Events Manager
Courtney joined F. Oliver’s before its first store opened after she and her husband were introduced to the proprietor, Penelope Pankow, by a mutual friend from a neighboring Canandaigua store. “When Penelope found out that we had degrees in culinary arts and hospitality management she asked us if we were looking for work. We were and it’s been a wonderful match ever since!”
Although the Canandaigua grand opening was a bit overwhelming, she was, “immediately drawn to the reaction the customers had to the products and that feeling has not gone away. I get such a rush of excitement introducing new customers to the products we offer.”
Courtney’s advice changes depending on what she’s been cooking and the season. She first guages the customer’s comfort level – whether they spend hours in the kitchen or cringe at the idea. She has numerous tips that elevate even the simplest meal to something fabulous. “Using the infused EVOO’s in place of butter for grilled cheese, for example, or tossing lasagna noodles in Tuscan Garden EVOO before building the casserole. You can even pop popcorn in the EVOO’s and toss in some Geneva Cheese Sprinkle or Baharat Spice Blend.”
Courtney helped open the Skaneateles location and finds that,“Skaneateles is a village filled with people who care about their food. Where it comes from, who grows it, that there’s actually faces behind the names of our importers and suppliers. They want their food to be healthy but flavorful. The community is intent on shopping at locally owned small businesses. I feel truly blessed to be a part of such a lovely community!”