The Olive Oil Times Education Lab and the International Culinary Center (ICC) will present the second installment of the Olive Oil Sommelier Certification Program next month at the Center’s New York City campus.

All three levels of the program will be held back-to-back from Saturday, February 4 through Friday, February 10.

An international faculty of renowned experts will guide students through more than 100 olive oil samples from 26 countries in the world’s most comprehensive curriculum in olive oil quality assessment.

A course that will begin building an army of educated olive oil professionals.- Thomas Sheridan, Olive Oil Importer

Following the successful, first-level session in October that sold out in just a few weeks, the condensed, 7-day program offers the opportunity to earn the sommelier certification in one intensive week.

The director of the International Culinary Center Olive Oil Program, Curtis Cord, said students were in store for an unrivaled educational experience designed to foster a deep understanding of olive oil quality assessment. Cord conceived the program with the late Dorothy Cann Hamilton, the ICC founder.

“The responses to our first session in October have been overwhelmingly positive and extremely helpful in guiding the development of this groundbreaking course,” Cord said. “We’re so proud to be working with the International Culinary Center to offer a program in olive oil sensory assessment like no other in the world.”

While students of the sommelier program have included such diverse professionals as producers, marketers, importers, merchants, food buyers, quality-control managers, chefs, journalists and lawyers, Cord said the program is designed to teach the vital skills of sensory analysis to anyone concerned with olive oil quality.

Instructors from five countries will guide tastings of an international selection of oils to expose students to an unrivaled diversity of olive cultivars and flavor profiles, building an internal sensory library to steer future decisions on matters of olive oil quality and usage.

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Many first-level students from the October session will be returning in February, eager to complete the program based on their experiences in the first-level:

“I was so impressed by the international team of experts who taught the course,” said restaurateur Joseph Calcagno. “It was amazing how top experts in their field from around the world were brought together to teach in this very comprehensive program. Much more than I or my classmates ever expected.”

“(Level 1) was the perfect introduction to the world of olive oil and touched on all the critical topics,” said an aspiring producer of Tuscan olive oil, Margot Stone Bowen. “You have an ability to articulate the issues related to olive oil so clearly and your passion for the topic is evident and inspired everyone in the room.”

Salvatore Russo-Tiesi, who markets the award-winning Bono olive oil brand said, “The course helped my palate catch up with my expertise in the commercial side of the product and to dig into the category further. It also gave me a better understanding of my competition and how I need to be selling.”

Cord said a guiding mission of the program is to build a network of olive oil experts who can, in turn, set out to educate others on olive oil quality matters and change the many misconceptions that undermine the value of one of the world’s most important foods.

Or, as Thomas Sheridan, a first-level student, and an olive oil importer put it, “… a course that will begin building an army of educated olive oil professionals.”

Registration is open for those who would like to enroll in the program.



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