` Olive Oil Immersion Course Comes to New York City

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Olive Oil Immersion Course Comes to New York City

Feb. 6, 2014
By Vanessa Stasio

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Del Posto Restau­rant, New York

The National Orga­ni­za­tion of Olive Oil Tasters (ONAOO), home of Italy’s pre­mier olive oil tast­ing school, will be host­ing an immer­sive, five-day olive oil tast­ing course in New York City this March. His­tor­i­cally only offered at ONAOO’s head­quar­ters in Impe­ria, Italy, the pro­gram is the first of its kind in the United States and will be held at the acclaimed restau­rant Del Posto.

The com­pre­hen­sive sem­i­nar was designed to expand Amer­i­ca’s net­work of cer­ti­fied olive oil tasters and promises in-depth edu­ca­tion and train­ing in olive oil pro­duc­tion processes, sen­sory devel­op­ment, and indus­try reg­u­la­tions as well as food and culi­nary appli­ca­tions. On the final two days of the course, par­tic­i­pants will also have the oppor­tu­nity to take a sen­sory cer­ti­fi­ca­tion exam­i­na­tion to attain sen­sory analy­sis cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from ONAOO, which proves the olfac­tory senses are capa­ble of sens­ing the sub­tle dif­fer­ences in aroma and taste of var­i­ous olive oils.

The tuition for the course is $1,850, or $1,550 with­out the ONAOO cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Nicholas Cole­man, chief ole­ol­o­gist at Eataly in New York, and Kathryn Toma­jan, founder of Eat Retreat, are co-orga­niz­ers of the course. They met while com­plet­ing the tast­ing course them­selves in Italy and have been work­ing together since that time to bring this spe­cial­ized train­ing to the United States. Cole­man and Toma­jan are both cer­ti­fied olive oil tasters. Coleman’s expe­ri­ence also includes hand-har­vest­ing olives in Tus­cany, over­see­ing the press­ing of olive oils, teach­ing oil courses, and train­ing chefs and som­me­liers within Mario Batali’s restau­rant empire. He will be serv­ing as a judge at the New York Inter­na­tional Olive Oil Com­pe­ti­tion (NYIOOC) in April.

Nicholas Cole­man

With a grow­ing inter­est in higher-qual­ity olive oils in Amer­ica, more indi­vid­u­als are seek­ing to dif­fer­en­ti­ate olive oils, prop­erly taste them, and learn to incor­po­rate dif­fer­ent vari­eties into daily life. Fur­ther­more, peo­ple who work in the food indus­try, pro­fes­sional chefs, restau­ra­teurs, and oth­ers want to know how to iden­tify high-qual­ity olive oils and under­stand their culi­nary appli­ca­tions.

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Under­stand­ing how to taste for pos­i­tive attrib­utes and sen­sory defects is an essen­tial abil­ity for any­one that works with olive oil,” Cole­man said. This includes pro­duc­ers, importers, retail­ers, som­me­liers and culi­nary pro­fes­sion­als.”

The course orga­niz­ers have lim­ited enroll­ment to 20 par­tic­i­pants to ensure an inti­mate and inter­ac­tive expe­ri­ence for all involved. Atten­dees will be led through five days of taste train­ing and sen­sory devel­op­ment by a col­or­ful line-up of pre­sen­ters.

Mauro Ame­lio, chemist direc­tor of sci­en­tific activ­i­ties at ONAOO, will focus on sen­sory eval­u­a­tion tech­niques and scor­ing, phys­i­cal and chem­i­cal prop­er­ties of olive oils, and admin­is­tra­tion of the 16-part cer­ti­fi­ca­tion exam. Mar­cello Scoc­cia, vice pres­i­dent and panel leader of ONAOO, will lead ses­sions on prac­ti­cal sen­sory eval­u­a­tion and descrip­tion of Mediter­ranean and global olive oils.

Kathryn Toma­jan

For exper­tise on olive oil pro­duc­tion con­sid­er­a­tions from tree to table, course orga­niz­ers have called upon Paul Vossen, a panel leader at this year’s NYIOOC and a farm advi­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion, to teach par­tic­i­pants how grow­ing and pro­cess­ing con­di­tions impact the final prod­uct. Dr. Mary Flynn of Brown Uni­ver­sity will offer per­spec­tives on olive oil and health through the lens of cur­rent sci­en­tific research on extra vir­gin olive oil com­pared with other fats. Toma­jan rounds out the ros­ter pro­vid­ing insights on the basics of sen­sory analy­sis as well as olive oil clas­si­fi­ca­tion, mar­ket­ing and label­ing guide­lines.

Culi­nary appli­ca­tions are also inte­gral to the five-day pro­gram. Cole­man and Chef Ali­cia Wal­ter of La Scuola di Eataly, will present on food and wine pair­ings. An impres­sive set of Batali’s chefs includ­ing Mark Lad­ner, exec­u­tive chef of Del Posto, Brooks Headley, exec­u­tive pas­try chef of Del Posto, Dave Paster­nack, exec­u­tive chef of Esca, and Gae­tano Arnone, butcher and line cook at Babbo, are sched­uled to per­form culi­nary demon­stra­tions to demys­tify olive oil and share tech­niques used in some of New York’s top restau­rants.

Cole­man and Toma­jan hope to expand their offer­ing of the course to other Amer­i­can cities in the future.

Fur­ther infor­ma­tion on the course is avail­able at the orga­niz­er’s web­site.

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