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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.

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.

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.”

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.


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