Entries are open for the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2020, which will for the first time have three Supreme Champions.
To ensure the Awards represent all the country’s cheesemakers from boutique producers through to the very large cheese companies and every producer in between, three Supreme Champion Awards will be made this year. The Countdown Champion of Champions Commercial category for producers making more than 100 tonnes annually and Puhoi Valley Champion of Champions Boutique for companies making less than 10 tonnes per annum will be joined by the New World Champion of Champions Mid-sized category for producers who make between 10 and 99 tonnes annually.
The Awards have been run by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) since 2003 and NZSCA chair Neil Willman said the Awards constantly evolve to reflect the changing industry.
Another significant change for 2020 is how the Champion Cheesemaker will be judged. “To be eligible cheesemakers will now enter three styles of cheeses, which are assessed in the one entry. The winner will be the cheesemaker who received the highest aggregate score across their three cheeses,” he said. Previously the Award had been made for the cheesemaker who won the most medals across the whole competition.
A new Chefs’ Choice category has been included this year too. Additionally in 2020 a Greek/Cypriot Cheese Category has replaced what was formerly known as the Feta Category and the Cheddar Category has been split into two sub categories, Bulk and Retail Cheddar.
Willman explained these changes follow those made in the 2019 the Awards, when the judging panels increased to three judges and two new categories were introduced; Champion Fresh Italian Style Cheese and a category to champion retailers offering a unique shopping experience for New Zealand specialty cheese, the Favourite NZ Specialty Cheese Shopping Experience.
Master Judge Russell Smith of Australia will again preside over the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards judging, which will also include butter and yoghurt. Judging will take place on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 February 2020 with medal winners announced in March. The announcement of trophy winners will be at a gala dinner – featuring a selection of winning cheeses – at Sky City Hamilton on Wednesday 6 May 2020. NZSCA is expecting 300 guests from throughout the country at the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2020.
The NZ Champions of Cheese 2020 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
- NZ 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
- Delta Wines Champion European Style Cheese
- Sabato Champion Farmhouse Cheese
- Thermaflo Champion Washed Rind
- Big Chill Distribution Champion Flavoured Cheese
- Champion Retail Cheddar Cheese
- Champion Bulk Cheddar Cheese
- Champion Goat Cheese
- Champion Sheep Cheese
- Champion Export Cheese
- Curds & Whey Champion Homecrafted Cheesemaker and Cheese
- New World Cheese Lovers’ Choice
- Ignite Colleges Chefs’ Choice
- Favourite NZ Specialty Cheese Shopping Experience
- Innovative Packaging Champion Butter
- Champion Yoghurt
Online entry is via the NZSCA website https://nzsca.org.nz/