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28 Complete Sommelier Certification Program

Professionals and enthusiasts joined the growing network of certified olive oil sommeliers around the world after completing a comprehensive six-day program in New York.

Becky Li analyzed a sample at the Olive Oil Siommelier Certification Program
May. 23, 2019
By Daniel Dawson
Becky Li analyzed a sample at the Olive Oil Siommelier Certification Program

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Twenty eight olive oil pro­fes­sion­als and enthu­si­asts have com­pleted the six-day Olive Oil Sommelier Certification Program in New York City.

The eighth edi­tion of the widely-acclaimed course focused on a wide array of topics from the assess­ment of olive oil qual­ity and olive cul­ti­va­tion, har­vest­ing and pro­duc­tion to olive oil health ben­e­fits, chem­istry and stan­dards, among many other things.

There is not a single path when we talk about olive oil. There are many pos­si­bil­i­ties and the sum of visions and knowl­edge pre­sented to the stu­dent can be applied in its own way.- Christian Vogt, owner of Milonga Extra Virgin

The newly minted som­me­liers, who hailed from all over the world and across the United States, will now take what they have learned back to their respec­tive jobs and share their newly acquired knowl­edge with their friends, fam­i­lies and col­leagues.

“It was an orga­nized and pas­sion­ate group,” Angela Rosenquist, the head of sales and a prod­uct devel­oper at InnovAsian Cuisine, told Olive Oil Times. “I was amazed and impressed at how diverse the rea­sons were for stu­dents attend­ing the course.”

See more: Olive Oil Education

Rosenquist, who came all the way from Stockton, California to attend, said that she will use her newly acquired knowl­edge to run pair­ing courses for her company’s prod­ucts with dif­fer­ent types of extra virgin olive oils and try to intro­duce tast­ing courses as well.

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“My goal is pro­vid­ing frozen food a voice in the indus­try. I want the food to shine,” she said. “To a cus­tomer, the food is frozen and only the cus­tomer can unlock the fresh­ness by cook­ing it.”

“It’s a cool con­cept to enhance a frozen meal with fresh herbs and extra virgin olive oil,” she added. “When you do, and are ready to serve it, which olive oil are you using to entice the flavor to the sur­face?”

To ques­tions such as this one, Rosenquist found answers from the inter­na­tional panel of instruc­tors.

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Rosenquist also took the oppor­tu­nity to net­work with her class­mates and already has plans to visit some of them once every­one has returned home.

Arcangelo Rea is among the fellow som­me­liers Rosenquist will visit. Rea pro­duces olive oil at Queen Creek Olive Mill in Arizona and also came to New York in order to expand his base of knowl­edge around the prod­uct.

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“I really enjoyed the course, I felt it was more edu­ca­tional than any course I have taken in the past,” he told Olive Oil Times. “My favorite part was get­ting the oppor­tu­nity to meet and learn from some of the most influ­en­tial people in the olive oil indus­try and, of course, to taste great olive oils from around the world.”

Rea said that he was sur­prised by some of what he learned, espe­cially one of the instructor’s takes on fil­tra­tion during the pro­duc­tion process. He also plans to apply his knowl­edge start­ing with the next har­vest season.

“This year when I am pro­duc­ing olive oil, I will imple­ment the use of cel­lu­lose fil­tra­tion plates,” Rea said. “Pablo Voitzuk con­vinced me that it is an indis­pens­able prac­tice to increase both the qual­ity and shelf life of the olive oil.”

Panagiotis Magganus, a restau­ra­teur and olive oil pro­ducer from Crete, in Greece, was another attendee at the pro­gram look­ing for way to improve his pro­duc­tion tech­niques and share his newly acquired knowl­edge with fellow pro­duc­ers.

“I hope with the knowl­edge, which I took from the olive oil som­me­lier course, I will pro­duce a high-qual­ity extra virgin olive oil and teach other Cretan people how they can improve their cul­ti­va­tion and pro­duc­tion tech­niques,” he told Olive Oil Times.

A common goal among the atten­dees of the course was learn­ing how to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between high-qual­ity olive oil and bad olive oil in order to advise cus­tomers and clients on what they should be buying and con­sum­ing.

“We sell extra virgin olive oil in a coun­try where knowl­edge of olive oil is lim­ited,” Karrie Kimble, an importer at Philosophy Foods in New York, told Olive Oil Times. “We wanted to increase our knowl­edge to pass along to our chefs, retail­ers and dis­trib­u­tors as well as expose our palates to oils out­side of our Spanish com­pe­ten­cies.”

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Kimble said that she enjoyed the oppor­tu­nity of sam­pling more than 100 sam­ples from around the world.

“Unfortunately, there were more con­fir­ma­tions than sur­prises for me – mostly in how under­trained we were regard­ing oils from Italy and Greece,” she said. “The most help­ful part of this course was tast­ing olives oils from around the world that were recently sub­mit­ted for the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.”

See more: NYIOOC 2019

Kimble will use her newly acquired knowl­edge to con­tinue teach­ing cur­rent and new cus­tomers about olive oil and will also tour the coun­try pre­sent­ing and prepar­ing foods with extra virgin olive oil.

Zi Xie, an Australian entre­pre­neur, told Olive Oil Times that she will also use what she learned from the course “to inno­vate tast­ings and events where people can edu­cate and nour­ish them­selves.”

Xie said she is quite pas­sion­ate and inter­ested in learn­ing about olive oil, but espe­cially enjoyed all the dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives that atten­dees brought from their par­tic­u­lar jobs and homes.

“I enjoyed the course and really appre­ci­ated how well orga­nized it was, and how it brought people from other fields of exper­tise together,” she said. “My favorite part was the people I met and the pas­sion that was shared.”

Christian Vogt, an olive oil pro­ducer and owner of the Milonga Extra Virgin in the south­ern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, was another pas­sion­ate attendee, who came to the course look­ing to expand his knowl­edge in order to help his busi­ness.

“With the course, I feel more con­fi­dent in under­stand­ing the qual­ity of my olive oil com­pared with the other oils in the market,” he told Olive Oil Times. “For me, the com­po­si­tion of instruc­tors, all of whom came from dif­fer­ent parts of the world, was very impor­tant. They were very com­pe­tent and expe­ri­enced with dif­fer­ent opin­ions that enrich the knowl­edge.”

From these instruc­tors, Vogt learned that every step of the olive oil pro­duc­tion process, from the ter­roir to the milling, can be detected in a sen­so­r­ial analy­sis of the result­ing oil.

“It’s like seeing the whole year’s result of your orchard, pro­cess­ing and stor­age in a few sec­onds on your nose and in your mouth,” he said. “If you cannot create this link, you cannot find the best of your ter­roir.”

Like many of his fellow atten­dees, Vogt also enjoyed meet­ing and net­work­ing with the diverse array of people from dif­fer­ent parts of the sector.

“There is not a single path when we talk about olive oil,” Vogt said. “There are many pos­si­bil­i­ties and the sum of visions and knowl­edge pre­sented to the stu­dent can be applied in its own way.”

The next Olive Oil Sommelier Certification course will be held in San Francisco, California in September.