Unlocking the World of Olive Oil Sommeliers
In 2016, ICC and the Olive Oil Times Education Lab partnered to create the world’s most comprehensive curriculum in olive oil quality assessment. For the seventh time since its inception, we welcomed culinary professionals from around the world for another sold out round of the two-level Olive Oil Sommelier Certification courses. Over the course of six days, professionals learned to identify the positive attributes & defects in olive oil and tasted more than 100 samples from various regions around the world.
The two-level certification focuses on olive oil quality assessment, cultivation and history, harvesting and production, health benefits, chemistry, regions and cultivars, standards and grades, culinary applications and consumer education. Upon completion, culinary professionals are prepared with a vast knowledge of olive oil that is unparalleled.
But, what happens after completing this certification course? Where do these professionals use their new knowledge? After passing these examinations, they’re inducted into an exclusive group of olive oil sommeliers—then, the real journey starts. From the Mediterranean climate of Tunisia, to the rainforests of Brazil, our alumni journey from more than 25 countries to study olive oil at ICC.
Read on to learn more about some of the ways our alumni use their olive oil sommelier certification in their various culinary fields!
PÉROLA POLILLO: BRAZIL
Pérola Polillo is a Brazilian chef who has worked in kitchens around the world. After being introduced to the realm of olive oil, she decided to take the Olive Oil Sommelier Certification course to learn how to harness the olive oil varietals in her cooking. After the course, she immediately put her new knowledge to use and started creating private dinners to showcase olive oil. When her first dinner sold out in the first day of announcing it, she knew she had to do more.
In addition to cooking for the judges of the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition and teaching food pairing in the program, she has also expanded her business Casa De Pérola to encompass catering, events and consulting. Using her knowledge, she creates dishes that showcase olive oil front and center.
LEONARD YOUNG: USA
Before Leonard Young completed the course, he had the idea to host olive oil food pairings at Waterstreet Café in Olympia, Washington. While people were willing to spend money on a great bottle of wine or a delicious plate of food, they were not as willing to do the same for olive oil. After ordering olive oil, he quickly realized that he needed more knowledge to pursue this new endeavor.
Following completion of the course, he was ready to increase awareness of the quality of olive oil. The series of food, wine and olive oil tastings in partnership with a local wine retailer allow diners to experience specially-selected pairings to enhance their knowledge of olive oil.
ETHAN TÜRKOĞLU: SPAIN
Ethan Türkoğlu, founded Ed’o, a Spanish company dedicated to providing luxury in the olive oil industry. Last year, his company launched a food pairing concept with two unique Extra Virgin Olive Oils—Ed’o PURE and Ed’O ORGANIC. These two olive oils offer different elements to any dish you’re trying to create.
Last year, after success with his product, Ed’o was the first Olive Oil brand in the world to receive two awards from the organization Red Dot through their design competition. These awards, including the “Best of the Best” and the “Best Packaging Concept On A Worldwide Level,” helped to revolutionize the gourmet industry and brought forth a turning point in the world of olive oil.
KARIM FITOURI: TUNISIA
Karim Fitouri, founder of Tunisian olive oil company Olivko, started his company in the hopes of leading the industry in Tunisia. After helping to revive the industry and focusing on quality over quantity, he’s managed to accomplish just that! In 2017, Fitouri took home gold at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition for his product.
This blog post was originally published by the International Culinary Center (ICC), founded as The French Culinary Institute (FCI). In 2020, ICE and ICC came together on one strong and dynamic national platform at ICE's campuses in New York City and Los Angeles. Explore your culinary education where the legacy lives on.