Tuesday 22 February 2022: A strong number of entries have been received for this weekend’s judging of the 20th NZ Champions of Cheese Awards at WINTEC Hospitality School in Hamilton.

More than 380 cheeses have been entered for assessment in the annual Awards, owned and organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA). The NZ Champions of Cheese celebrate the best NZ cheese as well as helping to improve cheese quality by providing benchmarking and feedback to cheesemakers.

Chair of the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA), Catherine McNamara said organisers were conducting judging with stringent safety protocols due to the current COVID-19 Protection Framework Red Traffic Light setting. A number of safety measures have been added this year to ensure everyone stays safe including;

  • All judges and stewards are required to have Vaccination Passes
  • All judges, stewards and staff will sign a health declaration
  • Everyone will be required to wear an approved mask when not tasting cheese
  • Physical distancing between judging panels

She said the most significant change is a review of the final Championship tasting. This year Master Judge Jason Tarrant will lead a tasting of the top scoring Gold Medal cheeses with a small group of up to four senior judges.

“We are fortunate to work with the team at WINTEC, who are super helpful and have a beautiful, spacious, well-ventilated venue which makes it easier to us to safely manage judging,” Catherine McNamara said.

Jason Tarrant said it’s encouraging that despite the uncertain environment entry numbers are among the highest on record. ‘It’s heartening in this the 20th anniversary of these prestigious New Zealand Awards to see entry numbers are on the rise.” He’s looking forward to the judging this weekend. Following that, Jason will join two sustainability specialists from Countdown to assess the inaugural Countdown Sustainability Award which has been designed to encourage the cheese industry to continue to find new opportunities for ethical and sustainable business.

Judging for the 20th NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2022 will be held at Wintec Rotokauri Campus on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 February 2022. Medal winners will be named on Monday 4 April 2022 with the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Gala Dinner in Hamilton on Thursday 5 May 2022.

The NZ Champions of Cheese 2022 Trophies are:

  • Countdown Champion of Champions (Commercial)
  • New World Champion of Champions (Mid-sized)
  • Puhoi Valley Champion of Champions (Boutique)
  • MilkTest NZ Champion Cheesemaker
  • Countdown Sustainability Award
  • Fonterra Cooperative Group Champion Original Cheese
  • ECOLAB Champion Blue Cheese
  • Wintec Champion New Cheese
  • CHR Hansen Champion Soft White Rind Cheese
  • Kiwi Labels Champion Greek/Cypriot-Style Cheese
  • Cheeselinks Champion Fresh Italian-Style Cheese
  • IFF Champion Fresh Unripened Cheese
  • AsureQuality Champion Dutch-Style Cheese
  • IXOM Champion European-Style Cheese
  • Sabato Champion Farmhouse Cheese
  • Thermaflo Champion Washed Rind Cheese
  • Sansmart Champion Flavoured Aged Cheese
  • Big Chill Distribution Champion Flavoured Fresh Cheese
  • Tetra Pak Champion Retail Cheddar Cheese
  • Sealed Air Champion Bulk Cheddar Cheese
  • OJI Fibre Champion Goat’s Milk Cheese
  • dish magazine Champion Sheep’s Milk Cheese
  • Dominion Salt Champion Export Cheese
  • Curds & Whey Champion Amateur Cheesemaker
  • New World Cheese Lovers’ Choice
  • Rutherford & Meyer Chefs’ Choice
  • NZSCA Champion Butter
  • Countdown Champion Yoghurt

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