The Olive Oil Program at the International Culinary Center is expanding to the school’s Campbell, California campus with a six-day, two-level olive oil sommelier certification course this October, said Curtis Cord, the program’s executive director.

We are out to build a community of educators who can change the lives of people everywhere by revealing the truths about this gift of nature.- Curtis Cord, Program Director

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.

The expansion of the program, presented by the Olive Oil Times Education Lab and the International Culinary Center (ICC), follows two successful courses in New York, where participants came from as far as Uruguay, Mexico, Brazil, The Netherlands, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Tunisia and Dubai to gain a thorough understanding of one of the world’s most important foods.

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 program 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.

The program aims to do more than creating olive oil experts, Cord said. “We are out to build a community of educators who can change the lives of people everywhere by revealing the truths about this gift nature has given us.”

The program manages an active online community forum where those who have taken the course collaborate and other social tools are in the works to serve the growing ranks of olive oil sommeliers. To develop their skills even further, Cord recently announced an apprenticeship program at next week’s New York International Olive Oil Competition, where the new sommeliers will sit alongside the leading experts as they analyze entries in the world’s largest olive oil tasting event.

“While the analyses of these emerging experts will not be a factor in the judging, the apprenticeship program will rapidly build upon their skills and expose these tasters to an environment few will ever experience as part of the elite team of NYIOOC judges,” Cord said. “If they continue to work hard to develop their mastery I have no doubt some will eventually be called upon to serve on the panel as full members.”

More information about the Olive Oil Sommelier Certification Program is available on the Education Lab website.

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