The sensory evaluation certificate course is returning in June to the University of California at Davis Olive Center. The course has been offered regularly in the past, but this year marks the first time it will be extended to two separate sessions.
Dan Flynn, executive director of the program, says that students of all levels are welcome to attend Sensory Evaluation of Olive Oil Part One, which in addition to covering methods for spotting defects and positive attributes in olive oil, will include instruction on how it can be used in cooking.
William “Bill” Briwa, an experienced chef-instructor with the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, will serve as an instructor for portions of the certificate course. Flynn called Briwa among the nation’s most experienced chefs with olive oil. “He’s really an outstanding instructor who understands how chefs use olive oil and how to best pair (olive oil varieties) with certain foods.”
Part two of the class will last for three days and delve further into panelist training, the oils from specific countries, and culinary uses. According to Flynn, students should have taken the first class prior to entering the more advanced second session.
Approximately twenty different oils will be evaluated each day, amounting to over a hundred across the full five days of both sessions. Attendees of Part 2 are required to bring a laptop or tablet in order to utilize the Olive Center’s unique software, which Flynn explains as a cloud program where students can input data. From there, it’s used to generate accurate feedback through detailed statistical analysis. “Those enrolling in Part Two will receive quick feedback on how their performance compares to the class as a whole,” said Flynn.
Established sensory scientist Sue Langstaff will also be returning as a course instructor. Langstaff is co-editor of Olive Oil Sensory Science, the developer of the Olive Oil Defects Wheel and had previously served as chairman for the Sensory Evaluation Committee for the California Enological Research Association, among numerous other accolades.
See more: UC Davis Sensory Evaluation of Olive Oil
“Sensory science was pioneered by UC Davis,” says Flynn. “What Sue brings to the table is an understanding of human sensory equipment and an understanding of the biases we carry as evaluators. She can really give people an excellent idea of their proficiency.” There will be plenty of opportunities for attendees to put that proficiency to the test during a final exam in the second half of the course.
Those who missed the previous installment of the master miller class are also in luck, as the recurring certificate course has been scheduled again by the Olive Center for October. It will be lead by Leandro Ravetti of Australia’s Boundary Bend, whom Flynn refers to as “a walking encyclopedia.”
“What’s also special about his year’s course,” Flynn added, “is that we’re doing a field trip day to visit local olive oil mills, including the new Boundary Bend U.S. location. They were rumored to be locating in California [at the time of the last class], but they’re actually building right now.”
The sensory evaluation course will run from June 15 through 19 at the Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theater at UC Davis, and the master miller class is set for October 1 through 4. Registration is now open for both upcoming certificate courses on the Olive Center website.