24 Achieve Olive Oil Sommelier Certification After Intensive Week in California

They join the growing ranks of sommeliers around the world -- ambassadors of olive oil who will, in turn, educate others on matters of olive oil quality, usage, and appreciation.

Oct. 10, 2017
By Olive Oil Times Staff

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Twenty-four peo­ple came from as far as Hong Kong, Greece and Turkey to gain a deeper under­stand­ing of olive oil sen­sory eval­u­a­tion at the fourth edi­tion of the Olive Oil Sommelier Certification Program in Campbell, California last week.

…incred­i­ble amounts of infor­ma­tion that will be used as a ref­er­ence guide for years to come.- Olove Oil Producer and Sommelier

Having suc­cess­fully com­pleted the six-day, com­pre­hen­sive course, they joined the grow­ing ranks of som­me­liers around the world — ambas­sadors of olive oil who will, in turn, edu­cate oth­ers on mat­ters of olive oil qual­ity, usage, and appreciation.

The atten­dees ranged from small pro­duc­ers to rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the very largest; from qual­ity-con­trol tech­ni­cians to pro­fes­sional chefs and restau­ra­teurs; from inde­pen­dent retail­ers to major distributors.

Over the course of the week, they were led through guided tast­ings of more than 130 sam­ples of olive oil from 26 coun­tries by instruc­tors from Italy, Greece, Chile, New York and California.

The inter­ac­tive pro­gram spanned the his­tory and cul­ture of olive oil, olive tree cul­ti­va­tion and har­vest­ing, milling and pro­duc­tion, health ben­e­fits and chem­istry, qual­ity man­age­ment, culi­nary appli­ca­tions and food pair­ing and, of course, the sen­sory eval­u­a­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil.

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On two of the days, there were open forums, over lunch pre­pared by the International Culinary Center, where par­tic­i­pants shared their own ideas and projects with the group. What we have found is that tap­ping into the col­lec­tive wis­dom of such a diverse, inter­na­tional group of pro­fes­sion­als can often expose a clear path for­ward for the par­tic­i­pants’ ini­tia­tives and ambi­tions,” said Curtis Cord the pro­gram direc­tor, or at the very least, build on this com­mu­nity, and expand our net­works to make change happen.”

In fact, past par­tic­i­pants of the pro­gram have wasted lit­tle time putting their exper­tise and con­nec­tions to work around the world.

Fabulous course with incred­i­ble amounts of infor­ma­tion that can (and will) be used as a ref­er­ence guide for years to come. Thank you for expo­sure to knowl­edge­able experts we were unlikely to have the oppor­tu­nity to meet,” a pro­ducer from California who com­pleted the six-day pro­gram said.

Another pro­ducer who, after the pro­gram, returned to imme­di­ately over­see the olive har­vest in Turkey said, I have learned much more than I expected. It was a very well struc­tured and orga­nized course.”

An awe­some course,” said a cor­po­rate chef who splits his time between California and Australia. Very excited to stay in touch with all of my new col­leagues and edu­cate more and more.”

The pro­gram’s instruc­tors included the Chilean expert Carola Dummer Medina; the con­sul­tant, EVOO judge and edu­ca­tor from Italy, Antonio G. Lauro; New York-based ole­ol­o­gist Nicholas Coleman; Greek agron­o­mist, con­sul­tant and expert taster Konstantinos Liris; award-win­ning California olive oil pro­ducer Pablo Voitzuk; the International Culinary Center culi­nary direc­tor Marc Pavlovic; Agbiolab founders Liliana Scarafia and Carlos Machado; and Cord, the pub­lisher of Olive Oil Times and pres­i­dent of the New York International Olive Oil Competition.

The next course will begin April 30 in New York, fol­low­ing the 2018 NYIOOC.

Below are the 24 olive oil som­me­liers who suc­cess­fully com­pleted the two-level program:



October 2017 Olive Oil Sommelier Certification Program

Bahar Alan
Marcus Chapman
Gregory Diharce
Mara Drew
Jane Duffy
Saida El Kiram
Roseanne Fischer
Sheila Fitzgerald
Michael Graham
Brett Greenberg
Trey Hartinger
Larissa Iracheta
Jodi Kiel Seely
James Lee
Alena Lehrer
Stavros Manolakos
Christine Mole
Kevin O’connor
Roderick O’sullivan
Frank Pinto
Daniel Santini
Ejder Varol
Leonard Young
Man Sang Yuen



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