Olive Oil Sommelier Certification Program Expands to California

The six-day program at the ICC's Campbell, CA campus features the world’s foremost olive oil experts and educators in a comprehensive course spanning production, quality management, and advanced sensory assessment.

Jun. 6, 2017
By Olive Oil Times Staff

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The Inter­na­tional Culi­nary Cen­ter (ICC) and the Olive Oil Times Edu­ca­tion Lab will present their pop­u­lar Olive Oil Som­me­lier Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion course at the ICC’s Camp­bell, Cal­i­for­nia cam­pus this Octo­ber.

I was so inspired after the course that I decided to make it my per­sonal mis­sion.- Wilma van Grinsven, owner of the Oil & Vine­gar retail chain

The six-day, two-level pro­gram fea­tures the world’s fore­most olive oil experts and edu­ca­tors in a com­pre­hen­sive series of courses span­ning pro­duc­tion, qual­ity man­age­ment, and advanced sen­sory assess­ment.
See more: Reg­is­ter for the Octo­ber Olive Oil Som­me­lier Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Course
Those who suc­cess­fully com­plete the course receive a joint olive oil som­me­lier cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the Inter­na­tional Culi­nary Cen­ter and the Olive Oil Times Edu­ca­tion Lab and join a grow­ing com­mu­nity of olive oil sen­sory ana­lysts and edu­ca­tors.

The pro­gram’s direc­tor, Cur­tis Cord, said the aim of the series is to pro­vide the most com­pre­hen­sive and prac­ti­cal instruc­tion pos­si­ble through inter­ac­tive, guided tast­ings with renowned experts that will make those who com­plete the courses uniquely knowl­edge­able so they can, in turn, edu­cate oth­ers.

Instead of look­ing at the oils of a par­tic­u­lar region, we will be ana­lyz­ing oils from every region — tast­ing far more oils than any other course in the world to pro­vide a com­plete, inter­na­tional per­spec­tive and to build a vast sen­sory library to guide deci­sions,” Cord said.

So far, the pro­gram has offered four ses­sions in New York that saw stu­dents travel from every cor­ner of the world — 19 coun­tries in all — toward becom­ing experts in olive oil sen­sory assess­ment.

The suc­cess of the course is reflected in the new­found con­fi­dence of its grad­u­ates to put their knowl­edge to imme­di­ate use in ways only they could imag­ine.


Wilma van Grinsven, the owner of the Nether­lands-based Oil & Vine­gar chain of spe­cialty shops said, I came back very moti­vated and full of energy and won­der­ing how to share my inspi­ra­tion and all the infor­ma­tion I gained. Of course being one of the own­ers and buy­ing direc­tor of a world­wide retail chain that buys olive oils from farm­ers in the Mediter­ranean, the knowl­edge I gained through the course in New York could be imme­di­ately put to work.”

I was so inspired after the course that I decided to make it my per­sonal mis­sion,” van Grinsven said. I truly feel the need to spread the word.”

Per­ola Polillo, the chef de cui­sine at a Brazil­ian per­sonal chef net­work Meu Bistro, put her knowl­edge to imme­di­ate use at her cater­ing net­work: I orga­nized a pri­vate din­ner for twenty peo­ple to cook a spe­cial menu: The Olive Oil Expe­ri­ence. I sold out the first day, so I did another one,” she said. Polillo recently instructed a class of 200 uni­ver­sity stu­dents on olive oil tast­ing and qual­ity analy­sis.

John Canevari, the pro­pri­etor of a fam­ily-owned olive oil and vine­gar tast­ing room, The Blue Olive in Pawl­ing, New York, emerged from the advanced course ready to share his new­found exper­tise with chefs through­out the north­east U.S., offer­ing edu­ca­tion on olive oil cul­ti­va­tion, pro­duc­tion, sea­sonal rota­tion and qual­ity.

Yale School of Pub­lic Health’s Tas­sos Kyr­i­akides said he has taken on the role of EVOO ambas­sador” fol­low­ing the course, in line with what I feel is our respon­si­bil­ity now.” He was invited to meet with the chefs at an award-win­ning resort in Cyprus to show them how to choose qual­ity olive oils for their cus­tomers. All this, thanks to the train­ing from the Olive Oil Times Edu­ca­tion Lab and the Inter­na­tional Culi­nary Cen­ter.”

Olive oil pro­ducer Priscila Vejo said that what she learned at the ICC courses has had a sig­nif­i­cant impact on pro­duc­tion deci­sions that will be made going for­ward. We have made some arrange­ments with impor­tant restau­rants to have three vari­eties offered to cus­tomers with a lit­tle descrip­tion of each one — a very straight­for­ward way of edu­cat­ing con­sumers — let­ting them know EVOO has dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics and is a valu­able prod­uct.”

Another pro­ducer who took the course last fall, Karim Fitouri from Tunisia, said, I loved every minute of the course and I would take it all again.” Fitouri went on to win a Gold Award at the New York Inter­na­tional Olive Oil Com­pe­ti­tion in April with his Olivko — a mono­va­ri­etal Chetoui.

Reg­is­tra­tion for the Octo­ber 2 – 7 course in Camp­bell, Cal­i­for­nia is avail­able on the Inter­na­tional Culi­nary Cen­ter web­site.

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