Chef Cesare Casella, Dean of Italian Studies at the International Culinary Center makes a risotto for the attendees of the New York International Olive Oil Competition Thursday

After another day of informative olive oil seminars and lectures and a press conference to announce the winners of the New York International Olive Oil Competition, the program closed with an awards gala at the International Culinary Center.

A packed house of 100 guests enjoyed a delightful olive oil-inspired menu. Tables were decorated with many of the innovative olive oil packaging designs to be judged later this month by a top New York design firm.

Event organizer Curtis Cord opened the gala congratulating the many winners, but also those who did not receive prizes this year. “Whether small or big, an olive oil producer, by definition, has an emotional attachment to his product. Making quality extra virgin olive oil is a labor of love. Too often, the rewards go little beyond that, because most people out there don’t know what we do about the value of a great olive oil,” he said.

“By entering the New York International Olive Oil Competition each one of these producers is saying ‘I think my olive oil is one of the best in the world’ and that dedication alone deserves an award.”

Cord praised the hundreds of entries that made the competition an unprecedented one, thanking his sponsors, the host venue, and the olive oil producers who work “in heroic pursuit of perfection.”

Retelling the story of first meeting Dr. Gino Celletti, who passionately led an expert panel of judges in their tireless tasting of hundreds of varietals, Cord thanked him for contributing his expertise to the competition.

Cord ended by thanking all producers and program participants for contributing to the knowledge and the general awareness of the importance of olive oil, which he called “a matter of world health.”

Dorothy Hamilton gave the program’s final remarks, again praising Cord for his “vision,” and wishing the competition many more exciting editions in New York.

The festivities at the International Culinary Center went late into the evening, as the large group of new friends in the olive oil industry, merchants, distributors, educators, and winning producers celebrated a week spent paying tribute to an ancient and powerful food.

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