Meet your instructors

New York Sommelier Program
May 22-26, 2023

Draft subject to changes

Curtis Cord

Curtis Cord began a personal blog in 2009 where he compared various olive oils he encountered on his European travels. Seeing a need for a journalistic approach to the ever-expanding topic, he started the publication Olive Oil Times. Maintaining a strict policy of journalistic independence, Cord has edited or written thousands of articles for Olive Oil Times, the leading international source of olive oil news and information. Cord is regularly cited in the media as an unbiased authority in the olive oil industry. In 2012, he launched the New York International Olive Oil Competition, the world's largest and most prestigious olive oil quality contest. In its 11th year, the NYIOOC drew 1,100 entries from 28 countries. Cord is the director of the Olive Oil Times Education Lab, a comprehensive series of courses spanning production, quality management and advanced sensory assessment.

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.

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.

Dino and Diamantis Pierrakos

The Pierrakos brothers co-own the Laconiko olive oil company together with their two sisters and mother. They grow Koroneiki olives on a coastal estate in southern Greece that their family has owned for four generations. They bottle and retail their oil exclusively in the U.S. While their mother and sisters work mostly behind the scenes, Diamantis and Dino are the public faces of the operation, which has transformed from a source of workaday livelihood into an inspired enterprise that produces award-winning oils infused with the family’s vision, mission, passion and purpose.

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.

Anthony Dewald

After 20 years in the restaurant business, including 14 years in Southeast Asia and the opening of two restaurants, 2013 was the year I returned to my roots in Quebec City, Canada. At Maison Orphée, I have the position of Senior Technical Advisor, in charge of research and development in production as well as internal and external training in the food industry. I am also responsible for the tasting panel at Maison Orphée, which meets weekly to evaluate the products, including the extra virgin olive oils. I completed the Olive Oil Times Education Lab Sommelier Program at the International Culinary Center in New York in 2018.

Timon Brataševec

Timon Brataševec’s groves are some of the farthest north in the Mediterranean basin, which presents plenty of challenges, especially with the added uncertainty of climate change. His team at Villa Eva is dedicated to organic production and the protection of biodiversity, which the family sees as crucial for the well-being of their olive groves.

His award-winning olive oil production represents a magnificent comeback. Growers in the area had lost faith in olive farming after the catastrophic winter of 1929 when a โ€‘15โ€ฏ°C cold snap almost wiped out the olive tree population.

Villa Eva’s olive groves are dominated by two local cultivars, ฤŒrnica and Drobnica. The family also planted the Istrska Belica, renowned for its piquant flavor, Bianchera, Maurino and Leccino, to make different blends. Despite the farm’s sustained success, Brataševec said the family would not rest on its laurels, and new innovations are coming.

Tim Balshi

I have worked at all levels within the olive oil industry across the Mediterranean and gained expert-level know-how within the quality olive oil realm. Our family's mill, Almazaras Andres Aguilar, and the fruit we harvest continuously wins quality awards at global olive oil competitions. My passion for the olive oil sector and my unwavering dedication to producing the highest quality product have led my company to the top of the pack in the US, servicing top-tier restaurant groups, private label customers, and olive oil tasting bars across North America to focus on supreme quality. I have deep experience developing successful food businesses, innovating at every step, and building expert-led teams from tree to table define MillPress.

Samir Bayraktar

Samir Bayraktar has produced extra virgin olive oil in the back of a tractor-trailer truck for nearly a decade. He is the founder & CEO of Olive Truck, a premier mobile milling company based in San Francisco, California. Sam had established a similar mobile milling company in his native Turkey, where he sought out obscure native cultivars and would bottle single-varietal oils. Sam designed his mobile mill with the newest olive processing technology, all in a standard shipping container that can be easily off-loaded at an orchard site. The trailer travels directly to California olive groves to produce some of the freshest and highest quality olive oils. His olive oils have received top awards from the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.