New Zealand has its first Cheese Master, with the qualification being officially awarded to New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association secretary Diane Kenderdine at the Cuisine NZ Champions of Cheese gala dinner tonight.

Mrs Kenderdine has been secretary of the association since its inception in 2000, and has also been a member of the awards organising committee since the first awards in the same year.

Awards organiser Vikki Lee Goode said she couldn’t think of a more fitting person to be named New Zealand’s first Cheese Master.

“This qualification shows that Diane really walks the talk – that she is prepared to do the study and gain the knowledge and qualifications she encourages others to gain in her drive to constantly improve the quality of the industry.

“Through her passion for the specialist cheese industry, Diane is a person who has truly mastered cheese.”

The Cheese Master qualification is a joint initiative between the New Zealand Cheese School and the New Zealand Industry Training Organisation. Cheese school principal and awards master judge Neil Willman says the qualification, introduced last year, is another step in the growing sophistication of the country’s cheese industry.

“People who gain a Cheese Master certificate can rightly be regarded as experts in cheese,” says Willman. “They will have studied every aspect of cheese, from cheese types and history to sensory analysis and storage.

“With their knowledge they will be able to educate people who are new to the market about how best to handle, store and use cheese.”

One of the five papers on the course involves cheesemaking, but students do not have to be cheesemakers to complete it, says Willman.

“They may be involved in a large cheesemaking business, they may be chefs or delicatessen owners or food writers – but by completing the course they will show they are authorities in cheese, its flavours, uses and storage.”

The five modules of the Cheese Master qualification include cheese using, presenting and cooking cheese; cheese types and history; manufacture of cheese; cheese sensory analysis; and maturation of cheese.

Three of the modules include on-site study at the New Zealand Cheese School in Putaruru and two are external study only. Students can complete the papers in a time frame that suits them.


Prepared on behalf of the NZ Specialist Cheesemakers Association by Goode PR, Auckland. Prepared on behalf of the NZ Specialist Cheesemakers Association by Goode PR, Auckland. For further information, images or interviews: please contact Vikki Lee Goode on (09) 480 9948 or or Stephanie Lowe on (09) 480 9948 or

Media release – 03 Mar 2009

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