Extra Virgin Alliance (EVA), a non-profit trade association representing producers of extra virgin olive oil from around the world, is holding an Intensive Olive Oil Tasting Seminar for Buyers and Culinary Professionals in New York on Friday, June 27 and Saturday, June 28.

Scheduled just before the Fancy Food Show, the course aims to provide practical information for anyone with ties to the olive oil world, from retail executives and category managers to buyers and store employees.

Alexandra Kicenik Devarenne

Alexander Kicenik Devarenne, co-founder of EVA, explained that the class will be useful for just about anyone who is passionate about olive oil and looking to gain a foundation of knowledge and skills. “We are equipping people with sound information and decision-making tools that are useful and relevant, no matter where you fall along the continuum from producer to consumer.”

With an agenda spread over two days, the seminar promises valuable information and hands-on experiences provided by top individuals working in the olive oil and specialty food industries, including Leandro Ravetti, executive director of Boundary Bend in Australia and head of the technical team at Modern Olives, and Ari Weinzweig, co-founder of Zingerman’s.

While some olive oil education events can run the gamut from being overly simplistic to exceedingly technical, this course was designed to strike an ideal balance by offering programming that is both authoritative and relevant to the audience but also fun and experiential. Instructors and speakers will deliver practical information to attendees and lead sessions rooted in an interactive, experience-based teaching style.

Devarenne expained, “We wanted to create a multi-level experience. People learn differently, but often most effectively when they’re engaged in a variety of ways. In this course, attendees will see photos, diagrams and charts, hear multiple perspectives on relevant topics, have the opportunity to ask questions and engage in dialogue with other participants, and of course, smell and taste oils.”

Participants will be treated to tastings of 38 oils over the two days, both good and bad. “There will be many more good than bad,” Devarenne assures. “But people have to try bad oils in order to understand the technique, mechanics and vocabulary of olive oil tasting.” Other topics covered will include olive oil testing, common olive oil defects and their causes, understanding olive oil standards, and effective olive oil marketing. Cooking with olive oil will also be a focus of the seminar. Breakfast and lunch will be provided each day, including a special pairing led by Bill Briwa, a chef from the Culinary Institute of America. He will also lead a lecture on using olive oil in the kitchen and at the table.

EVA created unique programming so that participants will leave ready to make educated choices in olive oil purchasing, handling and marketing, noted Devarenne. “Attendees will finish the course having gained a tremendous amount of knowledge.”

The Intensive Olive Oil Tasting Seminar for Buyers and Culinary Professionals will be held at the Fitch Learning Center at 55 Broad Street in New York’s Financial District. Space is limited. For more information, full agenda and list of instructors and speakers and to register, please visit the event website.

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