The New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) has confirmed that judging of the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2021 went ahead in Hamilton over the weekend.

Planning for this year’s Awards always involved a contingency in the case that COVID-19 prompted a lockdown in Auckland. The contingency, judging at Hamilton’s WINTEC Rotokauri campus had to swing into action.

Judging took place at WINTEC on Saturday 20 February for yoghurt and butter and on Sunday 21 February for cheese. Judging on both days involved appropriate social distancing, sanitiser and other health authority recommended measures.

The Awards are owned and organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) and NZSCA Chair Neil Willman made special note of the support of Hamilton’s WINTEC. “We are very grateful for their ability to swing into action at short notice and help us support the country’s dairy industry.”

He also thanked the loyal sponsors of the awards, saying their ongoing support made the celebration of New Zealand’s cheese industry possible.

Awards entries for this year were up significantly on recent years. This year the judges assessed more than 360 products over two days. That compares to 300 last year and 276 entries in 2019.

Jason Tarrant led the judging team – he is the first New Zealander to the head judging for the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards following the eight-year reign of Australian, Russell Smith.

Willman said medal winners will be named on Tuesday 16 March with the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Gala Dinner at Sky City in Hamilton on Wednesday 5 May 2021.

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