Meet your instructors

London Sommelier Program
January 2025

The roster of instructors is subject to change.

Curtis Cord

Curtis Cord is the founder and editor-in-chief of Olive Oil Times, president of the World Olive Oil Competition and the executive director of the Olive Oil Times Education Lab.

Olive Oil Times is an independent publication launched in 2009 to provide timely and comprehensive news for consumers and industry professionals. It is the world’s foremost source of olive oil information.

The NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition is the largest and most prestigious olive oil quality contest. Its annual list of award winners is the authoritative guide to top-rated olive oil brands and the producers who craft them.

The Olive Oil Times Education Lab offers innovative courses in New York, London, San Francisco and online.

Cord is regularly cited in the media as an unbiased authority in the olive oil industry.

Carola Dümmer Medina

Carola is a journalist and food & wine industry expert living in Santiago, Chile. She fell in love with olive oil 20 years ago, when olive oil production in Chile was just beginning. In 2007, she began a four-year training in olive oil sensory assessment with Italian professor Marino Giorgetti. Since then, she has participated as a judge in the international contest Sol d’Oro (2011 and 2013), at every New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC) since 2013 and other worldwide competitions. In Chile, she works as a consultant to companies and buyers and develops activities and tastings to promote the consumption of extra virgin olive oil through her online community OlivaLovers. In 2019 launched the first olive oil guide, Guía Oliva, with her partner Alicia Moya, a publication that reviews the EVOOs produced each harvest in that country. Carola has been an instructor with the Olive Oil Sommelier Certification Program since the first course in October 2016.

Antonio G. Lauro

Antonio Giuseppe Lauro is an olive oil consultant, journalist, NYIOOC panel leader, an assessor of extra virgin olive oil quality since 1995 and an International Olive Council (IOC) panel leader since 2003. Dr. Lauro has taught courses for professional olive oil tasters following IOC/EU laws. Lauro has written numerous publications on the extra virgin olive oil sector. Lauro is the panel leader of “Prim’Olio,” certified by the Agricultural Ministry of Italy and the panel leader of the international jury for TerraOlivo Mediterranean International Olive Oil Competition since 2010. He is also the panel leader of the international jury for Olivinus International Olive Oil Competition. An agronomist and olive sector expert for the Agricultural Department of Calabria, he has participated in many national and international projects related to olive oil production and quality control. Dr. Lauro is a member of the jury of the regional selection Concorso Nazionale Ercole Olivario, the international organic olive oil competition Premio Oleum Olivarum, a Member of the National Jury Concorso Nazionale Ercole Olivario (2005/2013); member of the international jury of Extrascape (2012), and a frequent panel Leader and member of regional olive oil competitions since 1995.

Konstantinos Liris

Kostas Liris is an agronomist, olive oil expert, and founder of the IRIS-Agricultural Union of Messinia, a company providing studying and consulting services in all relevant areas related to the agri-food area. Meanwhile, supporting companies as an independent contractor on international olive oil trading. He started his carrier at the Union Agricultural of Cooperatives of Messinia as director of the factory of Agricultural Industries in the standardization of olive oil, olives and raisins, and he was also the head manager of the Primary Support Sector, responsible of the communication and development activities with cooperatives members of the U.A.C.M. One significant time in his career came when he received a thank-you letter from former Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou for contributing to developing and promoting quality Greek products worldwide. He is a columnist for many magazines in his field.

Pablo Voitzuk

A native of Buenos Aires, he learned his skills in olive oil and table olives curing by working with Apollo Olive Oil and Pacific Sun Olive Oil in California and studying in Tuscany with Dr. Marco Mugelli and in Sardinia with Dr. Pier Paolo Arca. He is a member of the California Olive Oil Council tasting panel. The COOC awarded him the Best Miller of the Year in 2015, 2016, and 2018 in their yearly competition in the large producer category. He has judged in different local and international olive oil competitions, such as Los Angeles County Fair, BIOL, Puglia, Italy, Japan Olive Oil Prize, Tokyo, Sol D'oro, Verona, Italy and the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition. He teaches at the Olive Oil Times Education Lab program and currently works as a consultant in California, Uruguay, New Zealand, Portugal, Italy and Turkey.

Simon Poole

Dr. Simon Poole is a Cambridge-based medical doctor, author, broadcaster and commentator and is an internationally renowned authority on the science and application of the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle, explaining and celebrating the combination of wonderful ingredients in this beautiful cuisine, which can add years to life. He is an expert scientific consultant on extra virgin olive oil and a member of the Advisory Board of the Olive Wellness Institute. He is a member of the Council of The True Health Initiative and the Public Health Medicine Committee of the British Medical Association, as well as the Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners and a founding member of the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine and the European Lifestyle Medicine Organisation. Simon is an international senior collaborator with the NNedPro Global Center for Nutrition and Health, Cambridge, and has previously been involved in teaching at Cambridge University. Simon has regularly published on the subject of nutrition, lifestyle and public health in scientific journals, including Nutrition and Food Science and the International Journal of Clinical Practice. He has written articles for the Guardian and magazines such as Cook Vegetarian and Body Language. He has presented on national and international radio and television, including the BBC program “Nadiya’s Family Favourites.” His new award-winning book, The Olive Oil Diet, takes a fresh and exciting look at the Mediterranean Diet with oil at its heart. Winner of the World Best Mediterranean Cuisine Book - the Dun Gifford Prize - in the Gourmand Best in World awards, also the National Best Diet Book in the 'for the public' category.

Juan Ignacio Valdés

Just six years ago, a group of neighboring farmers in Sierra de Cazorla, Spain, decided to work together and produce high-quality olive oil with respect for the environment. Since then, their Dehesa de la Sabina monovarietal Picual has garnered critical acclaim, including the Best in Class Award at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition. The members of La Olivilla are determined to do more than create a world-class product, however. They are showing their community a better way to farm that restores nature’s delicate balance and sets an example for a new generation. Nature has offered me the intensity of life that I was looking for. After many years and obtaining a Ph.D. in International Economics and Development, I found an ecological project in Jaén that changed my life.

Irini Tzortzoglou

After a 30+ year banking career in the City of London, Irini went on to wow herself, the judges and many millions of viewers by winning MasterChef cooking food inspired by her Greek origins. She was approached by Headline, and her first book Under The Olive Tree (recipes from my Greek kitchen), was published in July 2020 and has been busier than ever before, making her mark in the food industry in ambassadorial roles (Slow Food UK and Women In The Food Industry), She is a BBC MasterChef guest critic, food writer, recipe developer, guest chef and celebrity chef often featured in the UK and Greek media. In 2022, Irini launched a series of Greek menus with recipe box company The Cookaway and a Greek cooking course with the E-learning platform Scoolinary. In 2023, among other things, Irini will host three-week-long culinary retreats on her birth island, Crete.

Sebastian Romero

Observe to know. Study and investigate what nature offers us to apply it to our crops. I produce, on average more olives than when I had my olive groves in conventional farming, with the difference that now my land is rich and before it was poor. All my processes generate positive effects. I study how to use plants to prepare fertilizers and fungicides to improve the olive grove: nettle, horsetail, oak bark, garlic, onion, decoctions, slurries, infusions.