Australian Master Cheesemaker and Cheese Grader Neil Willman has been appointed Master Judge for the 2008 Cuisine NZ Champions of Cheese Awards.

Willman is Australia’s only fulltime cheese educator and trainer and has, for 26 years, been responsible for all the cheese education and training programmes at Gilbert Chandler College, Australia’s only dedicated dairy college.

He has been an international judge at the World Championship Cheese Contest and the British Cheese Awards, as well as at previous Cuisine NZ Champions of Cheese Awards.
As well, Willman has been chief judge at the Australian Grand Dairy Awards, the Royal Sydney Easter Show, CheeseFest in Adelaide, and the Dairy Industry Association of Australia National Dairy Product Competition.

Neil replaces John Greeley, from the United States, who was the founding Master Judge of the awards.

“John came on board with the Cuisine NZ Champions of Cheese Awards right at the very beginning to ensure we created good systems and judging protocols that had professional integrity and would command industry respect,” said awards organiser Vikki Lee Goode.

“We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for creating a professional and credible judging platform, which Neil and the other judges will now be able to build on as the awards continue to grow and develop.”

Willman said that, having judged more than 70 cheese competitions, he saw his role as Master Judge as being one of striving to continuously improve awards and enhance their international reputation.

“Judges who have good knowledge of particular styles of cheese may sometimes be asked to judge styles that they may be less familiar with,” Willman said.

“I aim to empower judges by offering them workshops to build on their existing knowledge and expand their understanding of new and exciting cheese styles,” he said.
“I want the judging process to be open and accountable, and will encourage the cheesemakers themselves to act as stewards during the judging.”

Goode said the award organisers were delighted to have a Master Judge of Willman’s experience and international reputation.

The 2008 Cuisine NZ Champions of Cheese Awards will take place in Auckland from March 2-8 next year, with a Gala Dinner on March 4. Entries for the awards close on January 25, 2008.


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

Media release – 27 Nov 2007

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