The NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2019 judging panel has awarded 223 medals to locally-made cheese. The Bronze, Silver and Gold Medal winners have just been announced, with the Gold Medal winners vying for one of 26 cheese trophies, which will be announced in Hamilton in May. All the New Zealand Champion of Cheese medal winners are on the NZSCA website https://nzsca.org.nz/winners/
NZSCA chair, Neil Willman said the panel of judges assessed the cheeses last month, awarding 97 gold medals, 99 silver medals and 27 bronze medals. He says the Association had reviewed entry criteria and the judging formula this year. However, even accounting for the changes in the judging process he said the judges all commented on the high standard of cheese being assessed.
His comments were supported by Master Judge Russell Smith of Australia who presided over the judging. Russell Smith said “the high quality of New Zealand-made cheese is obvious by the large number of medals awarded.”
While cheese across the board impressed, Russell Smith made special note of the Fresh Italian Cheese category, which was introduced to judging for the first time this year. “What was wonderful to see was that while well-known Italian favourites such as mozzarella, ricotta and mascarpone showed great cheesemaking technique so did other styles which are less familiar in New Zealand. Not only was there a huge increase in the number of Italian style cheese entered in the competition, importantly the quality was excellent too. The judges had a challenge picking the winners because the Italian cheeses were new, exciting and well-made.”
Twenty-one cheese experts assessed more than 280 entries to find New Zealand’s top cheese. The Awards also welcomed the return of butter and yoghurt for judging and also 20 cheeses made by dedicated home cheesemakers.
Willman made special mention of the Awards sponsors. “The NZ Champions of Cheese Awards wouldn’t be possible without the businesses which support our industry and we are grateful for their generous contributions”.
The NZ Champions of Cheese Trophies will be announced on Tuesday 21 May at a dinner at the Distinction Hamilton Hotel and Conference Centre.
Organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association, the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards has been run since 2003.