Dutch cheesemaker, Jeanne van Kuyk of Aroha Organic Goat Cheese, has taken out the prestigious Milk Test NZ Champion Cheesemaker Award – the first and only female artisan winner to win this accolade.
The 69-year-old from Te Aroha received the award for the second time at the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards gala dinner and awards ceremony last night [Tuesday March 1] at The Langham, Auckland.
Jeanne, the first goat cheesemaker to win the accolade, paid tribute to her “girls” otherwise known as her milking herd of 30 dairy goats.
“We live under the mountain of love, Te Aroha, which is where the magic happens. Every day at 5am I ring the bell in the paddock to wake up my girls who follow me to the milking shed,” Jeanne said.
“I’m thrilled to have the life we have. Aroha is truly driven on love and passion for what we do.”
Aroha Organic Goat Cheese also took home the 180 degrees Champion Goat Cheese Award for the second year in a row for its Aroha Raw Milk Jubilee which achieved a rare score of 100.
“Jeanne and her girls have created a superbly crafted aged goat cheese exhibiting an extraordinary depth and length of flavour,” Master Judge, Russell Smith, said.
“This really is a fantastic cheese!” Smith adds.
While staying true to her Dutch roots, Jeanne and her husband John always dreamt of owning a slice of Kiwi farmland.
In 1981, that dream became a reality when they packed up their family and moved to New Zealand after seeing an inspirational story about a Dutchman who had migrated from the Netherlands to start share milking.
“It’s the best decision we’ve ever made. We’ve never looked back,” Jeanne said.
Combining her passion for goats and farming, Jeanne begun cheese making in 2004. Now Aroha Organic Goat Cheese boasts a range of ten classic Dutch goat cheeses using both raw and pasteurised milk.
The range of cheeses are made using a mixture of two different breeds of goat milk – Saanen and Anglo-Nubians as the qualities from both milks complement the cheese for optimum taste.
Aroha Organic Goats Cheese continues to strengthen their award wins across multiple categories winning 13 medals in total including the only gold medals in the Goat Cheese category for their Aroha Raw Milk Jubilee, Jubilee and Raw Milk Rich Plain.
“Each cheese is a little journey starting with organic soils and beautiful herbal lay pastures, to healthy ‘girls’, happy milking, and dedicated cheese making resulting in delicious organic cheese,” Jeanne said.
In 2012, Aroha Organic Goat Cheese was the first company to produce certified unpasteurised raw milk cheeses in New Zealand. A year later, Aroha Organic Goat Cheese was the first company to enter a raw milk cheese into the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards achieving a Champion result.
Now in its 13th year, the 2016 New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards attracted over 420 cheeses from small artisans to large scale producers, judged across 23 categories.
For more information on Aroha Organic Goat Cheese visit www.organicgoatcheese.co.nz