`New York Seminars Explore Olive Oil Culture, Health and Quality - Olive Oil Times

New York Seminars Explore Olive Oil Culture, Health and Quality

Apr. 16, 2013
Michael Goodwin

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Curtis Cord, president of the New York International Olive Oil Competition

The New York International Olive Oil Competition began today with speak­ers address­ing a full house at The International Culinary Center.

Curtis Cord, the event orga­nizer, opened the sem­i­nars by wel­com­ing guests to the defin­i­tive world­wide com­pe­ti­tion” in the world’s great­est city.” Dorothy Hamilton, the founder of the International Culinary Center, also wel­comed con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pants and praised Cord as a true vision­ary.”

Cord’s words on the great dif­fer­ence in olive oil con­sump­tion between Mediterranean nations and the world’s emerg­ing mar­kets, and asso­ci­ated health data, segued into a talk by expert olive oil taster and edu­ca­tor, Lina Smith.

Dorothy Hamilton, founder of The International Culinary Center

Smith, a pan­elist at this year’s com­pe­ti­tion, exam­ined data in con­sump­tion, pro­duc­tion, and qual­ity between the nations of the Mediterranean basin and New World mar­kets. Citing that 95 per­cent of the world’s olive oil is still con­sumed in the Mediterranean region, she chal­lenged the audi­ence to think of such nations as the US, Japan, and China as olive oil mar­kets with mas­sive poten­tial for growth. Her data noted that a group of small but dynamic” national indus­tries, with close atten­tion to qual­ity, are rev­o­lu­tion­iz­ing the indus­try in the same way that such New World play­ers” trans­formed the wine indus­try in the 1960s and 70s.

Smith’s talk was fol­lowed by a pre­sen­ta­tion by actress, writer, and film­maker Carol Drinkwater, who has pub­lished 19 vol­umes on olive oil and her jour­ney to dis­cover the his­tory behind olive oil, which she called the cor­ner­stone of the Mediterranean.”


Having trav­eled as far as Lebanon and Algeria in search of the world’s old­est olive trees, Drinkwater told the story of her col­lab­o­ra­tion with UNESCO to cre­ate an olive oil her­itage trail. She also showed film clips from her recent work on the olive his­to­ries and cul­tures of Spain, Italy, Greece, and the Holy Land.

The con­fer­ence also heard from Alexandra Kicenik Devarenne, an olive oil edu­ca­tor and con­sul­tant, about olive oil qual­i­ties and tast­ing meth­ods. Audience mem­bers were invited to taste olive oils and value their bit­ter­ness, fruiti­ness, and pun­gency, and to rec­og­nize the taste of ran­cid­ity. The audi­ence sam­pled more oil vari­eties with a sem­i­nar by Paul Vossen, olive oil con­sul­tant and taste pan­elist, on global oil pro­duc­tion and the marks of olive oil qual­ity.

Keith Ayoob, a pedi­a­tri­cian, pro­fes­sor and dietary expert con­tin­ued the con­fer­ence with a dis­cus­sion on the Mediterranean diet and the var­i­ous med­ical stud­ies that have proven it to be a healthy lifestyle choice.

Johnny Madge, a slow food and olive oil expert, gave a lec­ture on olive oil bit­ter­ness. Noting a cor­re­la­tion between bit­ter­ness and health ben­e­fits, Madge drew sources on taste pref­er­ence from ancient Rome, as did Gino Celletti, chair­man of the Monocultivar Olive Oil Association and the chief judge of the New York International Olive Oil Competition. Celletti spoke on olive oil com­plex­ity, char­ac­ter, and how to best ele­vate dishes with olive oil fla­vor notes.

The last speaker of the even­t’s first day was Steven Jenkins, of Fairway Market, who offered his expe­ri­ences as one of the fore­most olive oil retail­ers.

As the taste pan­elists con­tinue to sam­ple the hun­dreds of vari­eties entered in this year’s com­pe­ti­tion, con­fer­ence atten­dees will hear from more experts, edu­ca­tors, and mer­chants until the win­ners are announced Thursday evening.

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