After a record number of entries, the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) has announced 254 medal winners in the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2022.
Entries were up 20 percent on 2021, with more than 380 cheeses judged, and 76 Gold Medals, 120 Silver Medals and 58 Bronze Medals awarded.
Thirty-six judges led by Master Cheese Judge Jason Tarrant assessed the cheeses at Wintec in Hamilton on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 February 2022.
Tarrant especially mentioned Belle Chèvre Creamery, Raspberry Bonbons which was awarded a Gold Medal in the Big Chill Distribution Fresh Flavour Added Cheese.
“Belle Chèvre Creamery’s Raspberry Bonbons were so unexpected! Hats off to them for presenting a cheese with the wow factor. It was the perfect coming together of a cheesemaker and a chef, creating a goat cheese, raspberry and chocolate combo which delivered on flavour, presentation and innovation.”
Fresh Italian-style cheeses continue to go from strength to strength and the judges only had praise for the quality of cheese in this category. Jason says of particular note were Burratas, with one from Massismo’s Italian Cheeses and one from Clevedon Buffalo receiving Gold Medals.
Halloumi is hot right now. High competition entry numbers in the Kiwi Labels Greek/Cypriot Style Cheese reflecting increasing consumer demand for Halloumi, which as well as being delicious on its own, is a popular protein alternative.
Reviewing the medals Jason also noted cheddar was a standout category in 2022, with 10 Gold Medals awarded to NZ-made cheddar. “It’s a reflection of the quality of the inputs from premium, rich milk through to the cheesemaker’s skill and consistent cellaring.”
NZSCA Chair Catherine McNamara said the Association undertook significant safety planning ahead of the judging and was fortunate to judge just before the peak of the country’s Omicron outbreak.
“We again hosted the judging at the Wintec Hospitality School. It’s a wonderful venue with lots of large, air conditioned spaces for judging and plenty of chiller space to ensure cheese is stored at the optimal temperature.”
Catherine McNamara said the Association had moved the announcement of the NZ Champions of Cheese Trophy Winners to Thursday 30 June, in the hope Covid Traffic Light settings would allow a dinner for up to 300 cheese industry professionals to celebrate the country’s finest cheese. This Gala Dinner is to be held at The Atrium, Hamilton.
The NZ Champions of Cheese 2022 Trophies being announced on Thursday 30 June are:
- Countdown Champion of Champions (Commercial)
- New World Champion of Champions (Mid-sized)
- Puhoi Valley Champion of Champions (Boutique)
- MilkTest NZ Champion Cheesemaker
- Countdown Sustainability Award
- Fonterra Cooperative Group Champion Original Cheese
- ECOLAB Champion Blue Cheese
- Wintec Champion New Cheese
- CHR Hansen Champion Soft White Rind Cheese
- Kiwi Labels Champion Greek/Cypriot-Style Cheese
- Cheeselinks Champion Fresh Italian-Style Cheese
- IFF Champion Fresh Unripened Cheese
- AsureQuality Champion Dutch-Style Cheese
- IXOM Champion European-Style Cheese
- Sabato Champion Farmhouse Cheese
- Thermaflo Champion Washed Rind Cheese
- Sansmart Champion Flavoured Aged Cheese
- Big Chill Distribution Champion Flavoured Fresh Cheese
- Tetra Pak Champion Retail Cheddar Cheese
- Sealed Air Champion Bulk Cheddar Cheese
- OJI Fibre Champion Goat Milk Cheese
- dish magazine Champion Sheep Milk Cheese
- Dominion Salt Champion Export Cheese
- Curds & Whey Champion Amateur Cheesemaker
- New World Cheese Lovers’ Choice
- Rutherford & Meyer Chefs’ Choice
- NZSCA Champion Butter
- Countdown Champion Yoghurt