Why Become an Olive Oil Sommelier?

Written by Curtis Cord
Founder of Olive Oil Times and Executive Director of ICC’s Olive Oil Sommelier Certification program


There’s never been so much interest in high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Why?

Two reasons: First, there are the health benefits revealed in a never-ending stream of research that credits components in EVOO with helping us live longer, healthier lives.

And, there’s the taste. Extra virgin olive oil is an unprocessed fruit juice that reflects its terroir much like wine, and chefs around the world are only beginning to discover how to use different olive varieties to elevate their dishes to heights they never imagined.

But something else that has come to the forefront is the importance of choosing a high-quality olive oil to get the full advantage of these benefits. There’s a huge difference between a really great olive oil and one pretending to be. Mislabeled and substandard oils are a major concern for people who are responsible for making choices in this category.

Luckily for us, there are more excellent olive oils, from more regions, than ever before. At this year’s New York International Olive Oil Competition (an annual event that was launched at the ICC five years ago) there were 910 entries from 27 countries — and more winners than in past editions.

That’s great news for those of us who care a lot about what we eat and seek the best quality, especially in products as important as extra virgin olive oil.

But, there’s a problem. The only way to really know if an olive oil is good or not is to learn how to taste it. Most people can’t tell a high-quality olive oil that deserves the investment from an old, rancid one that shouldn’t be on the store shelves, to begin with.

In fact, we’ve been eating poor-quality olive oil for so long that a recent study found most people actually chose a rancid oil that has virtually none of the touted health benefits, over a fresh, healthful one simply because they didn’t know what they should be looking for and selected the one that seemed more familiar to them.


So what does good extra virgin olive oil taste like?

First of all, it can’t reveal what we call “defects” in olive oil sensory assessment. Some of the most common are rancidity (basically spoiled fruit, like a banana that has turned black), fustiness (when the olives have undergone advanced fermentation often by sitting around before they were milled) and muddy (that results from unclean milling equipment).

There are also what are called the “positive characteristics of olive oil”  — fruitiness, bitterness, and pungency — that are indicators of fresh, healthy fruit and careful processing. Trained tasters look for oils that exhibit a nice balance of the three.

To recognize defects and positive attributes take time and practice, but with so much at stake, more chefs, producers, food buyers, foodies and others are finding it well worth the effort to know how to assess the quality of this vital food for themselves, their families and the companies they represent.

The Olive Oil Program at the International Culinary Center brings the world’s foremost olive oil experts and educators to the New York and California campuses in a comprehensive series of courses spanning production, quality management, and advanced sensory assessment.

There has never been a greater need to foster a deeper understanding of this important food among today’s culinary leaders, and there is no better place than the International Culinary Center to lead the way to greater knowledge.

Register today to join our upcoming Olive Oil Certification courses at our California Campus beginning in October 2017 (click here). Course One runs from October 2-4 and Course Two runs fr October 5-7

 

ICC In The News: Highlights From April 2017

ICC In The News provides monthly highlights featuring ICC alumni, deans, faculty and friends. Stories of our 15,000+ alumni network and their successes are continuously popping up across various prestigious publications. Below, we have aggregated some of our favorites from April 2017, aimed to inspire readers to #LoveWhatYouDo in the kitchen and beyond.


Christina Tosi Opens New NYC Milk Bar Location in Financial District.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ICC Professional Pastry Arts alumni, Christina Tosi,  opened her 9th NYC location and 12th overall location of Milk Bar in the city’s Financial District. Tosi joins a plethora of influential chefs and restaurateurs who are embracing the FiDi neighborhood, with new outposts of Mario Batali’s Eataly, Daniel Boulud’s Épicerie Boulud, and an upcoming 6,000 square-foot venture from Danny Meyer in the works for the area. Read more about MilkBar FiDi, here on Time Out New York.


ICC Expands Olive Oil Certification Program to California Campus 

The Olive Oil Program at the International Culinary Center will be expanding to the Campbell, California campus with a six-day, two-level olive oil sommelier certification course this July in conjunction with The Olive Oil Times and Curtis Cord, the program’s executive director. An international faculty of renowned experts will guide students through more than 100 olive oil samples from 26 countries in the world’s most comprehensive curriculum in olive oil quality assessment. Click here to learn how to register.


Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs 2017 

Alumni and executive chef of The Beatrice Inn, Angie Mar, makes the list of culinary newcomers to be recognized by Food & Wine Magazine. As an alum of The Spotted Pig and Marlow & Sons, Angie continues to break the mold of the male-dominated meat world. To see all the honorees, click here.


The Real Differences Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes

Learn the differences between yams and sweet potatoes from ICC Master Chef Marc Bauer, including how to spot them out in a grocery store. Chef Marc also discusses the nutritional differences between the two with Real Simple. Click here to read the full story.


The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017  [1-50]

In April, The World’s 50 Best announced the honorees for the 2017 edition of the top 50 restaurants across the globe. While NYC’s Eleven Madison Park earned the #1 spot, the ‘Highest Climber Award‘ was bestowed upon ICC alumni Dan Barber‘s Blue Hill at Stone Barns located in Pocantino Hills, New York. ICC’s Farm-to-Table program students actually have the luxury of spending a full week at Barber’s farm, while being mentored by the agriculturally conscious chef. To view the full list of restaurants, click here


Macaron or Macaroon? Here’s the Difference

In an article for Real Simple, Director of Pastry Operations, Jansen Chan, explains the major differences between macarons and macaroons. Discover the history behind both in the full article, here.


GQ Talks With Dean of Special Programs Jacques Pépin 

In a brand new interview with GQ Magazine, ICC’s very own Dean of Special Programs, Jacques Pépin, speaks out on his upcoming episode of American Masters on PBS, his funniest Julia Child story, drinking wine over water and much more. Learn more about the legendary chef, here.

ICC In The News: Highlights from March 2017

Welcome to a new monthly feature! ICC In The News will provide monthly highlights from articles published that feature alumni, deans, faculty and more within the ICC community. Alumni successes are always popping up across various publications and this will be our new way to aggregate content with the purpose of congratulating those highlighted and inspiring students [and potential students] to continue to follow their passion and love what they do throughout their career.


THE WORLD’S 50 BEST RESTAURANTS [51-100 LIST]
  • On the newly released 2017 list, ICC California Dean David Kinch lands at #90 for his Manresa restaurant, while alumni David Chang’s Momofuku Ko in New York City’s Bowery neighborhood makes the list at #58. Click here for the full list.

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PASTE MAGAZINE | LIFE LESSONS FROM 10 FEMALE TV CHEFS

Paste shares some valuable lessons for life beyond the kitchen from female TV chefs such as Julia Child, Martha Stewart, Lidia Bastianich and ICC Associate Director of Alumni Affairs, Chef Daisy Martinez. Click here for the full story.

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TASTING TABLE | NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: 15 RISING CHEFS TO WATCH RIGHT NOW

ICC alumni Rawlston Williams makes the list for the unbeatable flavors of the Caribbean he brings to the menu at The Food Sermon in Brooklyn, New York. Later this year, Williams will also take his unique cooking style to the second restaurant in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. Click here to view the full list

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EDIBLE MANHATTAN | HOW DO YOU PREPARE A SPRING MENU IN THE WINTER?

Edible Manhattan talks to ICC alumni Franco Barrio, chef at the West Village restaurant, Bespoke Kitchen, in regard to creating a vibrant and fresh menu for spring in the dead of winter. Along with details Barrio’s rich culinary résumé, click here to learn tips on how to create seasonal menus.

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NBC NEWS | MUSEUM OF CHOCOLATE COMING TO NYC 

This month, Dean of Pastry Arts, Jacques Torres, opened a brand new chocolate museum in the heart of New York City. ‘Choco-Story’ has received press from various publications including NBC News, Eater, Time Out New York, Insider Food, Refinery29 and more. To read the NBC News article and purchase your museum tickets, click here.

Chocolate Museum


TELEGRAM | CELEBRITY CHEF GEOFFREY ZAKARIAN TO HOLD CULINARY CONVERSATION AT HANOVER THEATRE

When asked about the biggest influences in his life, celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian mentions ICC’s Dean Emeritus proclaiming, Chef Alain Sailhac for his tremendous knowledge of culinary techniques and cuisines — he taught me most everything I know.”  Click here to read the full article.

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BETHESDA MAGAZINE | SOUTHERN LIVING NAMES BETHESDA RESTAURANT ‘BEST IN MARYLAND’ 

Alumni and restaurateur Ashish Alfred opened Maryland restaurant Duck Duck Goose less than one year ago. The chef-owner of the contemporary French bistro was surprised to learn that his venue received the distinction of “Best in Maryland” by Southern Living Magazine. Click here for the more details, including Alfred’s reaction.

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OLIVE OIL TIMES – SOMMELIER WASTE NO TIME SHARING THEIR KNOWLEDGE

Graduates of ICC’s Olive Oil Program are already applying their expertise across networks and around the world. Click here to read the Olive Oil Times’ catch up with the new Oleologists.

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