Tuesday 1 December 2021. 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. Judging for the 19th NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2021 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.
Mr 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.
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.
Mr Willman is hoping that Covid won’t impact the 2021 Awards and in particular that borders will be open by judging time. The new 2021 Master Judge, Scott Bolch is based in Australia. However, the Association has a contingency plan with plenty of talented local judges available should international travel not be possible. This year the NZSCA was fortunate to have judged in February before NZ went into lockdown, however the Awards Gala Dinner due to be held in May was cancelled in favour of an online awards announcement.
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 at the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2021.
The NZ Champions of Cheese 2021 Trophies are:
Online entry is via the NZSCA website here.