NYIOOC2019: Changes Coming to Olive Oil’s Big Night

The 2018 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition boasted some impres­sive stats: One thou­sand entries from 27 coun­tries (orga­niz­ers closed reg­is­tra­tion early); 18 judges from 13 coun­tries; an audi­ence of 160 food indus­try pro­fes­sion­als and media attended the event and more than 7,000 watched the live stream. There were 462 awards bestowed in yet another sign of the rise of olive oil qual­ity around the world.

It was by far the largest, most attended and most watched olive oil qual­ity con­test yet, and the offi­cial online index of the award win­ners has been viewed 1.7 mil­lion times since the awards night — an indi­ca­tion that more peo­ple than ever are search­ing for high-qual­ity olive oils, and the ded­i­cated pro­duc­ers who craft them are get­ting at least some of the recog­ni­tion they deserve.

However, to Curtis Cord, the found­ing pres­i­dent of the NYIOOC, the pre­mier event for Liquid Gold is just get­ting started.

Planning for the annual com­pe­ti­tion’s sev­enth edi­tion is a process that began the moment the lights went off on the 2018 event, said Cord. Every aspect of the process has been eval­u­ated and ana­lyzed.

Last year, for the first time the judges began to record char­ac­ter­is­tics of oil sam­ples on iPads using a pro­pri­etary appli­ca­tion built by the NYIOOC tech­ni­cal team. The data col­lected through the sys­tem has pro­vided Cord and his staff data to ana­lyze and refine the entire assess­ment process in ways that weren’t pre­vi­ously pos­si­ble.

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A lot of our refine­ments come down to tim­ing, redun­dancy and pro­vid­ing the best pos­si­ble con­di­tions for our tast­ing pro­fes­sion­als to give every sam­ple the undi­vided atten­tion it deserves,” Cord said. One hun­dred per­cent accu­racy is our stan­dard, and there is no accept­able error mar­gin in this task.”

One of the major changes for this year will be the appoint­ment of 3 new judges to the panel of 18 expert tasters. The judg­ing days will be extended from four to five, and a redesigned tast­ing pro­to­col will serve to fur­ther ensure the accu­racy of the pan­el’s find­ings — a mat­ter Cord called his sin­gle most impor­tant respon­si­bil­ity.

One long­stand­ing tra­di­tion — announc­ing the results on the same day the judg­ing wraps up — will not con­tinue at the 2019 NYIOOC. Organizers said the care with which the results need to be com­piled and the prepa­ra­tions for the awards led to the deci­sion to move the cel­e­bra­tion to the fol­low­ing day.

To wel­come more atten­dees to the peren­ni­ally sold-out event, a new venue will accom­mo­date an audi­ence of 200 in a dra­matic space in New York’s East Village. The night will begin later this year, with the unveil­ing of the world’s best olive oils start­ing at 7:30, the press con­fer­ence at 8:30 and the cel­e­bra­tion last­ing late into the evening. It’s a big night, Cord said. We want to spend more time cel­e­brat­ing with friends who are com­ing from every cor­ner of the world.”

Cord added that the real work begins when the lights go down on the NYIOOC. That’s the start of the year-long cam­paign to share the names of the win­ning brands and pub­li­cize the tri­umphant pro­duc­ers who man­aged to craft the year’s best olive oils. And, as in every year, there are new ini­tia­tives on that front, too.

Cord said he would save the details of those ini­tia­tives for his May 10 press con­fer­ence, but he offered this: We’re going to be mak­ing it abun­dantly eas­ier for peo­ple to learn about, find, and buy, NYIOOC-win­ning oils.”

Registration is now open for pro­duc­ers and mar­keters to enter their brands in the com­pe­ti­tion via the NYIOOC Producer Tools por­tal. Tickets to the events go on sale in February.