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In the SoFAB Kitchen with the Uncommon Gourmet

  • Southern Food & Beverage Museum 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard New Orleans, LA, 70113 United States (map)

Join Chef Randall Abney for an afternoon exploration of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar. He'll lead us through the histories, development, and usage of oil and vinegar, and we'll sample different varieties.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Course


In the class on EVOO, we will cover the history of Olive Oil; where and how it is produced; and the health benefits - including information on the studies backing up the health benefits claim. We will discuss how EVOO reduces cholesterol, reduces tumors in breast and prostate, helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease, contains COX 1 and COX 2 inhibiters and helps relieve joint pain, along with many other benefits.

We will cover how to buy EVOO without getting “ripped off”, since over 90% of the olive oil sold in the US labeled Extra Virgin is suspect.  You will learn how to read a label on the olive oil container and know what the words really mean. We will learn how to store this product properly and what causes EVOO to deteriorate. And we will discuss how to use EVOO, including cooking with it. Then we will taste several olive oils to show the difference in the quality of various EVOOs that are available in your area.

Balsamic Vinegar Course

In this class on Balsamic Vinegar, we will cover the history of Balsamic Vinegar including how and where it is produced. You will learn what grapes are used and where they must be grown. You will learn about the Consortium that controls the quantity and quality of Balsamic Vinegar and what Aceto di Balsamic di Modena really tells you about the product in the bottle. We will cover what a battery of barrels has to do with Balsamic Vinegar and why you must have a “starter”, just like sourdough bread. We will cover the different woods used to age the vinegar. Then we will taste several Balsamic Vinegars from the cheap knock-offs to one of the finest Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP Balsamic Vinegars, which is 15 years old.

Free with museum admission. The classes begin at 2 PM in the Rouses Culinary Innovation Center by Jenn-Air, samples are first come first serve. Products will be available for purchase.

About the Chef

Randall teaching photo.jpg

In 1998, Randall and his wife, Carolyn, moved to Tuscany where they lived on an olive farm in Tuscany for 10 years. It was there that he learned all about growing olives and producing Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). He earned a certificate as a Master of Food, Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) from Slow Food University. Randall is also a member of the Georgia Olive Growers Association and the American Olive Oil Producers Association. He learned the balsamic vinegar business over the past 25 years from the Leonardi family, one of the oldest and most respected producers of balsamic vinegar in the world. The Leonardi family produces REALE Balsamic Vinegar products.

He and Carolyn settled in Athens, GA 10 years ago. Randall now imports EVOO from Riva del Garda, Italy and Balsamic Vinegar products from REALE in Modena, Italy because it was difficult to find high quality EVOO and balsamic vinegar products in the US. He also imports a new product called ULIDEA Olive Dust from Italy.

He teaches classes in EVOO and Balsamic Vinegar and is known as an Oilvangelist.

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