While most Kiwis are considering what local cheese to enjoy this festive season, NZ Cheesemakers are being encouraged to enter the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2021.
Entry opens on Tuesday 1 December and entries will be accepted until Wednesday 3 February. Online entry is via the NZSCA website https://nzsca.org.nz/ .
Judging for the 19th NZ Champions of Cheese Awards will be held at Ignite Colleges on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 February 2021. Medal winners will be named on Tuesday 16 March with the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Gala Dinner in Hamilton on Wednesday 5 May 2021.
The Awards are owned and organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) and NZSCA chair Neil Willman said they celebrate the best NZ cheese as well as helping improve quality by providing benchmarking and feedback to cheesemakers. He says the Awards play a key part in the Association’s promotion of local cheese.
Willman said there are minimal changes to this year’s NZ Champions of Cheese Awards. The only significant change is recognition for cheesemakers whose cheeses score well in the final round of trophy judging, certificates will be awarded for second and third place in each category.
The Aspiring Cheesemaker Award makes a welcome return for 2021. This award – recognising the cheesemaker who shows exceptional dedication to developing their career and learning the art of cheesemaking – has become biannual.
In 2020 the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards recognised three Supreme Champion Awards and this will continue for 2021. As will the Chef’s Choice Award, which was also introduced this year.
Favourite cheeses revealed
NZ Champions of Cheese Awards entries opening coincided with the announcement of two other NZ cheese awards. October was NZ Cheese Month and cheese lovers were encouraged to vote for their favourite cheese company with Puhoi Valley Cheese voted Barker’s Favourite NZ Cheese Company 2020. New World also ran its annual Cheese Lover’s Choice Award for shoppers to vote for the favourite cheese available through their supermarkets nationwide. Congratulations to Whitestone Cheese Windsor Blue, the New World Cheese Lovers Choice winner for 2020.
The announcement of trophy winners will be at a four-course gala dinner – featuring a selection of winning cheeses – at Sky City Hamilton on Wednesday 5 May 2021. NZSCA is expecting 300 guests from throughout the country.
The NZ Champions of Cheese 2021 Trophies are:
• Countdown Champion of Champions (Commercial)
• New World Champion of Champions (Mid-sized)
• Puhoi Valley Champion of Champions (Boutique)
• Milk Test NZ Champion Cheesemaker
• Fonterra Co-operative Group Champion Original Cheese
• ECOLAB Champion Blue Cheese
• New Zealand Food Safety Champion New Cheese
• CHR Hansen Champion Soft White Rind Cheese
• Kiwi Labels Champion Greek/Cypriot Cheese
• Cheeselinks Champion Fresh Italian Style Cheese
• Champion Fresh Unripened Cheese
• AsureQuality Champion Dutch Style Cheese
• Champion European Style Cheese
• Sabato Champion Farmhouse Cheese
• Thermaflo Champion Washed Rind
• Big Chill Distribution Champion Flavoured Cheese
• Tetra Pak Champion Retail Cheddar Cheese
• Champion Bulk Cheddar Cheese
• Champion Goat Cheese
• Dish magazine Champion Sheep Cheese
• Renco New Zealand Champion Export Cheese
• Curds & Whey Champion Homecrafted Cheesemaker and Cheese
• New World Cheese Lovers’ Choice
• Ignite Colleges Chef’s Choice
• Innovative Packaging Champion Butter
• Champion Yoghurt