Fabienne Roux, from France, and Cesar Colliga from Spain are among 16 judges on the New York International Olive Oil Competition panel.
Some of the New York International Olive Oil Competition seminar program attendees met for an afternoon olive oil tasting at Fairway Market, but the competition’s judges remained at the International Culinary Center, hard at work. As competitors, olive oil merchants, and seminar participants enjoyed today’s beautiful weather, the judges continued their arduous task indoors, sampling hundreds of oils.
Led by Dr. Gino Celletti, chairman of the Monocultivar Olive Oil Council, a panel of 16 judges is working tirelessly, tasting and scrutinizing the olive oils in time to announce the results tomorrow evening.
Representing 10 different countries across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, the judges have the massive challenge of selecting the winners in 24 diverse categories among the entries from 22 different countries.
Each of the 700 is an extra virgin oil from the competition crop year. To ensure a fair competition, the oils are assigned a random code and masked with opaque wrapping for judging.
Participants at yesterday’s seminars were given a small window into the official tasting process. Not only did Dr. Celletti present on the science of monovarietals, for which many of tomorrow’s awards will be given, but the audience also heard from judges Paul Vossen and Lina Smith.
Vossen, who currently heads the University of California’s taste panel, explained exactly how a judge analyzes olive oil based on its flavor. The process is closely connected to a chemical understanding of oil’s components. Only with a refined palate, and a profound sense for subtleties in fruitiness, bitterness, and pungency, can the slightest defects be detected.
The entries, which compete for awards in categories based on geographic origin, intensity and varietals, are also divided between organic and non-organic oils.
After tomorrow’s full day of seminars on olive oil trade, branding, and global markets, the winners will be announced at a press conference, followed by the gala awards dinner. Though little time remains, this year’s elite panel will surely finish in time to honor the competitions worthiest entries with their coveted recognition.