A strong number of entries were received for this weekend’s judging of the 20th annual NZ Champions of Cheese Awards at Wintec Te Pūkenga, Rotokauri Campus.
Master Judge, Jason Tarrant presided over the panel of 30 judges – a mix of cheesemakers, cheese retailers, food technologists and food writers who tasted and assessed a range of New Zealand-made cheese across 20 categories including; ewe milk, washed rind, blue cheese, Dutch style, fresh Italian style, Greek-Cypriot style and cheddar.
Jason says: “Celebrating 20 years of the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards is a fantastic milestone. This 20th anniversary year holds a special place in my heart. I have come full circle as I was making cheese when the Awards started in 2004. Then in 2005 I was proud to be named as the inaugural Champion NZ Cheesemaker.”
While Kiwis’ palates have become more adventurous over the past two decades many things remain the same. The inaugural 2004 NZ Champions of Cheese Champion of Champions Supreme Award went to Mainland for its Ferndale Raclette. While some cheese names such as Ferndale Raclette have been relegated to the cellars of history, many of the champions from 2004 remain much-loved favourites of the local cheese industry including; Mainland, Whitestone Cheese, Puhoi Valley Cheese, Zany Zeus and Kapiti.
Medal winners for NZ Champions of Cheese 2023 will be named on Tuesday 28 March 2023 with the Champions announced at the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Gala Dinner – celebrating 20 years – at the Atrium in Hamilton on Thursday 4 May 2023.