The Guild of Fine Food has announced that the World Cheese Awards will be held in the Spanish Principality of Asturias this year, taking place in Oviedo on 3 November.
The 33rd edition of the competition will now form part of the Asturias Paraíso Natural International Cheese Festival 2021, run by the Instituto del Queso, in partnership with the Principality of Asturias and the City Council of Oviedo.
An opportunity for the global cheese community to come together after a year of unprecedented challenges for cheesemakers and the industry as a whole, the World Cheese Awards will be at the heart of a four-day festival dedicated only to cheese, staged at Oviedo’s awe-inspiring Palacio de Exposiciones y Congresos.
As the cheese world congregates in the city between 3-6 November 2021, the competition is set to be bigger and more international than ever before, following the record-breaking 3,804 entries from 42 different countries judged in Bergamo, Italy in 2019.
Welcoming judges, entries and followers from every corner of the world, Oviedo will provide the setting for the industry to reunite, expand networks and look to the future. Building upon the Asturias region’s rich cheesemaking heritage, the International Cheese Festival will present a packed programme of events for both trade and consumer visitors, including an exhibition, the 2nd Scientific Forum for Dairy Innovation, tours of the World Cheese Awards judging arena, experimental tasting sessions, an Asturex Agrifood Forum, an Origin Zone (exploring European Quality Schemes such as PGIs and PDOs), a Cheese Market and even a Gastro Cheese Comedy line-up.
John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of the World Cheese Awards, commented: “Following the trials and tribulations of the past 12 months, we’re delighted to be making plans for the World Cheese Awards’ return to Spain. The cheese world has felt the economic impact of COVID-19 in a big way, followed by a huge outpouring of public support in many countries, so this year’s competition holds greater significance than ever before. Not only will it be an opportunity for the cheese community to reconnect, share experiences and do business, but the awards themselves will provide hard-earned recognition for those cheesemakers who have gone above and beyond to keep their craft alive. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have such committed partners in the Instituto del Queso, the Principality of Asturias and the City Council of Oviedo, as the competition faced its first ever postponement in over three decades. We’re now looking forward to working with them to stage the biggest cheese-only event the world has ever seen, using this as catalyst for the revitalisation of the region’s restaurants, food producers and tourism industry.”
A firm date in every cheese lover’s calendar, the World Cheese Awards has been bringing together cheesemakers, retailers, buyers, consumers and food commentators worldwide for over three decades, in a celebration of tradition, innovation and excellence in cheese. It’s the biggest cheese-only event in the world, with no yoghurt, cream, butter or other dairy able to enter, championing the world’s best cheesemakers, from tiny artisans to global heavyweights.
Judges work in teams of two to three, identifying any cheeses worthy of a Bronze, Silver or Gold award. They assess the look, feel, smell and taste of each entry, scoring aspects such as the appearance of the rind and paste, as well as the cheese’s aroma, body and texture, with the majority of points awarded for flavour and mouthfeel. Each team then nominates one exceptional cheese as the Super Gold from their table. These cheeses are the best in the world and are judged a second time by the Super Jury of 16 internationally recognised experts, who each select a cheese to champion in the final round of judging. The Super Jury, representing all four corners of the globe, then debates the final 16 in front of a live consumer and trade audience, before choosing the World Champion Cheese live on WCA TV.