Tuesday 7 December 2021. A new award has been created as part of the 2022 NZ Champions of Cheese Awards to recognise, celebrate and promote sustainability in the New Zealand cheesemaking industry.

The Countdown Sustainability Award is one of several changes to the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards, which open for entries this week. Judging will be held at Wintec’s Rotokauri Campus in Hamilton at the end of February 2022.

Calling for entries for 2022, Chair of the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) Catherine McNamara said they hoped the new Countdown Sustainability Award would help encourage the industry to continue to find new opportunities for ethical and sustainable business.

At the same time, she welcomed Jason Tarrant as Master Judge she also announced that Peter Gordon, well-known chef and co-owner of Homeland, Auckland restaurant and cookery school, will be joining the panel to judge the Chefs’ Choice Award.

“We are delighted to have a New Zealand Master Judge and thrilled that Jason with his years of experience in the dairy industry has agreed to take on this important role. The NZ Champions of Cheese Awards are vital to the industry’s success; providing feedback to help cheesemakers continue to improve their cheese and its medals giving consumers confidence they are buying quality New Zealand cheese.”

Jason Tarrant is General Manager Strategic Projects & Technical at Open Country Dairy. His dairy industry career began as a management trainee at Mainland in 1993. Since then, he has worked for multiple iconic New Zealand dairy companies including; Fonterra, Whitestone Cheese Company, NZ Organic Dairy Company, Goodman Fielder and Open Country. Tarrant’s experience covers all forms of cheesemaking from speciality and organic to commodity cheddar. He stepped into head NZ Champions of Cheese Awards judging last year and now he has committed to the role for three years.

Jason Tarrant said “I’m proud to take the mantle of the Master Judge and assist the panel of experienced judges to assess New Zealand’s finest cheeses. Last year the calibre of judges and the quality of entries was excellent and I’m looking forward to this continuing in 2022.”

As well as overseeing the assessment of more than 300 cheeses with a team of 30 judges, Jason Tarrant joins the panel judging the new Countdown Sustainability Award.

Entry opens on Tuesday 7 December 2021 and closes on Friday 11 February 2022. 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.

NZ Champions of Cheese 2022 Trophies are:

  • Champion of Champions (Commercial)
  • 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
  • Champion New Cheese
  • Champion Soft White Rind Cheese
  • Kiwi Labels Champion Greek/Cypriot-Style Cheese
  • Champion Fresh Italian-Style Cheese
  • Champion Fresh Unripened Cheese
  • Champion Dutch-Style Cheese
  • Champion European-Style Cheese
  • Sabato Champion Farmhouse Cheese
  • Thermaflo Champion Washed Rind Cheese
  • Sansmart Champion Flavoured Aged Cheese
  • Champion Flavoured Fresh Cheese
  • Tetra Pak Champion Retail Cheddar Cheese
  • Wintec Champion Bulk Cheddar Cheese
  • Champion Goat’s Milk Cheese
  • dish magazine Champion Sheep’s Milk Cheese
  • Champion Export Cheese
  • Curds & Whey Champion Amateur Cheesemaker

Special Awards

  • Cheese Lovers’ Choice
  • Chefs’ Choice
  • C’est Cheese Champion Butter
  • Champion Yoghurt

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