Waikato – long recognised as the country’s dairy capital – will host The New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) NZ Champions of Cheese Awards in May 2019.
The Specialist Cheesemakers Association has been running the awards since 2003 and will host the 16th annual NZSCA Gala Awards Evening at the Distinction Hamilton Hotel and Conference Centre on Tuesday 21 May 2019. The awards ceremony will be preceded by the association’s AGM and followed the next day with a cheesemakers seminar all hosted at Distinction Hamilton Hotel and Conference Centre. It’s the first time the awards ceremony has been hosted out of Auckland.
The announcement comes at the end of NZ Cheese Month during which the NZSCA released data showing Kiwis are enjoying more locally made cheese than ever. IRI data to 15/07/2018 shows specialty cheese is driving growth across the total cheese market, with +6.9% volume (KG) growth over the previous 12 months.
NZSCA chair, Neil Willman says he’s delighted cheesemakers will be coming to Waikato for the awards. ”We’re thrilled to be able to host cheesemakers in Hamilton, it makes sense to celebrate and recognise the country’s finest cheese, butter and yoghurt dairy in the country’s dairy heartland.”
“As well as moving the awards ceremony to Hamilton, we are also pleased to bring in other innovations for the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2019. We are introducing a NZ Cheese Retailer Award to recognise and encourage excellence in educating consumers and NZ in selling speciality cheese. Butter and yoghurt judging are being reintroduced after a brief hiatus and for the first time all cheeses will be judged by a panel of three”, Willman said.
Willman said he was delighted Master Judge Russell Smith of Australia will again preside over the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards judging.
Cheese will be judged in Auckland on Sunday 24 February 2019 and medal winners will be announced in March. The announcement of 27 Trophy Winners will be at a three-course gala dinner – featuring some of the winning cheeses – at the Distinction Hamilton Hotel and Conference Centre on Tuesday 21 May. NZSCA is expecting more than 250 guests from throughout the country at the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2019 and Willman says they plan to sell tickets to the public as well.