Cheese experts are to judge hundreds of cheeses to find the New Zealand champions.

An esteemed panel of judges will taste, smell and crumble their way through more than 300 New Zealand cheeses on Sunday the 23rd of February as they hunt for the winners of the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2020.

For the first time in the Awards 17-year history, the panel – led by Australian Master Judge Russell Smith – will be looking for three Supreme Champions. The change ensures the Awards represent all the country’s cheesemakers from boutique producers through to the very large cheese companies and producers in between.

The NZ Champions of Cheese Awards are not just for professional judges, cheese lovers from across the country are being called on to be part of the Awards too. Foodies are asked to nominate their favourite place to buy New Zealand cheese. The 180 degrees Favourite NZ Specialty Cheese Shopping Experience recognises the supermarket, specialty food store, farmers’ market or cheese shop which provides amazing service for those buying New Zealand cheese.

A new addition for 2020 Awards is the Ignite Colleges Chefs’ Choice in which cheesemakers submit a cheese of their choice which showcase their skill to be assessed exclusively by a specially convened panel of award-winning chefs. Hallertau Head Chef, Drew Lautenbach; Cordis Executive Chef, Volker Marecek​ and Ignite Colleges and NZ Chefs Auckland Branch President Jasbir Kaur, will be assessing the cheese with a view to choosing a winner whose cheese will wow restaurant and café diners.

Following judging at Ignite Colleges, Manukau medal winners will be announced in March. The announcement of Trophy Winners will be at a four-course gala dinner featuring a selection of winning cheeses at SkyCity Hamilton on Wednesday 6 May 2020. NZSCA is expecting 300 guests from throughout the country at the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2020.