Chef Paul Bartolotta discussed pairing monocultivar olive oils with foods at the June 2017 course in New York

The International Culinary Center (ICC) and the Olive Oil Times Education Lab will present their popular Olive Oil Sommelier Certification course at the ICC’s Campbell, California campus this October.

I was so inspired after the course that I decided to make it my personal mission.- Wilma van Grinsven, owner of the Oil & Vinegar retail chain

The six-day, two-level program features the world’s foremost olive oil experts and educators in a comprehensive series of courses spanning production, quality management, and advanced sensory assessment.
See more: Register for the October Olive Oil Sommelier Certification Course
Those who successfully complete the course receive a joint olive oil sommelier certification from the International Culinary Center and the Olive Oil Times Education Lab and join a growing community of olive oil sensory analysts and educators.

The program’s director, Curtis Cord, said the aim of the series is to provide the most comprehensive and practical instruction possible through interactive, guided tastings with renowned experts that will make those who complete the courses uniquely knowledgeable so they can, in turn, educate others.

“Instead of looking at the oils of a particular region, we will be analyzing oils from every region — tasting far more oils than any other course in the world to provide a complete, international perspective and to build a vast sensory library to guide decisions,” Cord said.

So far, the program has offered four sessions in New York that saw students travel from every corner of the world — 19 countries in all — toward becoming experts in olive oil sensory assessment.

The success of the course is reflected in the newfound confidence of its graduates to put their knowledge to immediate use in ways only they could imagine.

Wilma van Grinsven, the owner of the Netherlands-based Oil & Vinegar chain of specialty shops said, “I came back very motivated and full of energy and wondering how to share my inspiration and all the information I gained. Of course being one of the owners and buying director of a worldwide retail chain that buys olive oils from farmers in the Mediterranean, the knowledge I gained through the course in New York could be immediately put to work.”

“I was so inspired after the course that I decided to make it my personal mission,” van Grinsven said. “I truly feel the need to spread the word.”

Perola Polillo, the chef de cuisine at a Brazilian personal chef network Meu Bistro, put her knowledge to immediate use at her catering network: “I organized a private dinner for twenty people to cook a special menu: The Olive Oil Experience. I sold out the first day, so I did another one,” she said. Polillo recently instructed a class of 200 university students on olive oil tasting and quality analysis.

John Canevari, the proprietor of a family-owned olive oil and vinegar tasting room, The Blue Olive in Pawling, New York, emerged from the advanced course ready to share his newfound expertise with chefs throughout the northeast U.S., offering education on olive oil cultivation, production, seasonal rotation and quality.

Yale School of Public Health’s Tassos Kyriakides said he has taken on the role of “EVOO ambassador” following the course, “in line with what I feel is our responsibility now.” He was invited to meet with the chefs at an award-winning resort in Cyprus to show them how to choose quality olive oils for their customers. “All this, thanks to the training from the Olive Oil Times Education Lab and the International Culinary Center.”

Olive oil producer Priscila Vejo said that what she learned at the ICC courses has had a significant impact on production decisions that will be made going forward. “We have made some arrangements with important restaurants to have three varieties offered to customers with a little description of each one — a very straightforward way of educating consumers — letting them know EVOO has different characteristics and is a valuable product.”

Another producer who took the course last fall, Karim Fitouri from Tunisia, said, “I loved every minute of the course and I would take it all again.” Fitouri went on to win a Gold Award at the New York International Olive Oil Competition in April with his Olivko — a monovarietal Chetoui.

Registration for the October 2-7 course in Campbell, California is available on the International Culinary Center website.

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