8 Things the Founder of Brightland Absolutely Loves
Aishwarya Iyer founded Brightland in 2018 after she and her husband were sickened by an unlikely source: olive oil. After switching to an elimination diet and doing a bit of research, Iyer found that 70% of the olive oils Americans consume are already rotten or rancid by the time they hit kitchen cabinets. Determined to make a tasty product, and shine a light on problems within the industry, Iyer pivoted from her decade-long career in publics affairs and corporate communications to launch Brightland in sunny Los Angeles.
The brand started by offering olive oil in a well-designed bottle, and its offerings have since expanded to include infused oils, vinegars, honey, and kitchen items. We spoke to Iyer about how Brightland’s products differ from the rest, what home chefs may not know about cooking with olive oil, and the housewares that bring her a dose of joy every day.
You mention that you and your husband were sickened by poor-quality olive oil—would you elaborate on the problematic history of the industry? How is Brightland combatting that?
When my husband and I started to get into cooking, we expected to improve our well-being and boost our confidence in the kitchen. Instead, we got a little queasy. After eliminating likely culprits like cheese and bread, we believed—much to our surprise—that the cause was the olive oil we were using. I did some research and quickly discovered the olive oil industry has had a history of problems, and that not all olive oils are created equally: There are both good- and bad-quality products out there. [You can read their research here.] At Brightland, we partner with small, family-run and -owned, organic farms right here in California. They don’t use artificial preservatives or additives, so they are unadulterated—and always from the most recent harvest.
Is there a reason Brightland chose to work with farms in California instead of places where people may expect, like Italy?
After moving to California from New York, I decided to champion American-made, beautiful extra-virgin olive oil that is also modern, elevated, and has character. I enlisted at the Olive Center at the University of California, Davis, and visited 30 farms before selecting a family-run farm on the Central Coast. Since the very beginning, our goal has been to provide consumers with high-quality, honest, and traceable olive oil made in the U.S., rather than sourcing our ingredients from abroad. We all deserve to know where our food is coming from, and who is making it from start to finish. We are committed to partnering with farms that practice organic practices, pay fair wages, and are crafting really exceptional olive oil. I believe in the California sun and soil, and the exquisite olives, grapes, and fruit they yield.
What foods are best cooked with olive oil? Which ones are better to avoid?
Olive oil can be used to cook a wide range of foods. Our nutty, smooth Alive extra virgin olive oil evokes a delicious vibrancy for vinaigrettes and raw vegetables, although it is equally delightful drizzled on ice cream or added to baked goods. Our green, grassy Awake extra virgin olive oil is ideal for heartier fare such as pasta, stews, roasted vegetables and the team-favorite Pakistani-style spicy kebabs made by our chef in residence, Noreen Wasti. Our olive oils also have a smoke point of 410 degrees Fahrenheit, so there is no need to shy away from the heat required of certain dishes, such as frying an egg. We recommend avoiding olive oil when cooking dishes that require deep-frying.
Shop Iyer’s top picks for her home
"This robe from Lunya is so glamorous and perfect for lazy evenings in the kitchen with a glass of wine."
"Material’s tabletop items—especially their bowls and plates—are so elegant, and they are crafted from natural Korean soils and hand finished. Whenever I make one of Brightland’s delicious recipes from our chef in residence, I love using their tabletop goods to add more beauty to the meal."
"When I’m baking, I love using this adorable Areaware timer rather than my phone. One of Brightland’s values is to try to embrace the analog over digital, and this is a small way to do that!"
"I have been wanting to paint our dining room for a while, and I’ve had my eye on Backdrop Home’s fantastic paints. Self-Portrait is especially intriguing to me right now."
"Cuyana’s signature candle is one of my favorites to light in the evening at home."
"My morning kitchen routine includes a honey matcha latte using Golde’s fantastic matcha and Brightland’s Kauai wildflower honey."
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