This year’s New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards has recognised long term favourites as well as newcomers among its 27 trophy recipients.
The four Supreme Champion awards went to Kāpiti and Mahoe, two highly awarded cheesemakers with a proud history; The Drunken Nanny with 11 years of cheesemaking, as well as Annie & Geoff Nieuwenhuis of Nieuwenhuis Farmstead Cheese who were named MilkTestNZ Champion Cheesemaker after only three years of commercial cheesemaking.
The trophies were awarded at a Gala Awards Dinner at SkyCity in Hamilton and followed judging of more than 310 cheeses from 35 cheese companies at Wintec in February. Chief Judge Jason Tarrant led a panel of 32 judges to assess the cheeses.
“Overall, the calibre of the entries was excellent,” commented Tarrant.
“While there are too many trophy-winning cheeses to mention each one, some of the interesting cheeses include Geraldine Cheese Company, Aged Deer Gouda which won Fonterra Co-operative Group Champion Original Cheese Award; MilkTestNZ Champion Cheesemaker; Nieuwenhuis Farmstead Cheese; Whitestone Cheese Co, Whitestone Oamaru Blue which received the New Zealand Food Safety Champion New Cheese Award; and Clevedon Buffalo’s Buffalo Salted Curd which was named IFF Champion Fresh Unripened Cheese.”
New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association organises the annual awards.
“It’s encouraging to see the quality and variety of cheese which was recognised this year,” said Board chair Neil Willman.
“It’s proof of the strength of the New Zealand cheese industry and the quality and innovation of cheesemakers. Furthermore, I’m heartened by the reports that cheese lovers are seeking out locally made cheese, supporting the industry as never before and leading to increased sales for New Zealand cheese.”
The 2021 NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Supreme Champions are:
Countdown Champion of Champion Cheese Award - Commercial
Kāpiti, Te Tihi Premium Aged Cheddar
New World Champion of Champion Cheese Award - Mid-sized
Mahoe, Very Old Edam
Puhoi Valley Cheese Champion of Champions Cheese Award - Boutique
The Drunken Nanny, Black Tie Petite
MilkTestNZ Champion Cheesemaker
Annie Nieuwenhuis & Geoff Nieuwenhuis, Nieuwenhuis Farmstead Cheese.
The biannual Innovative Packaging Aspiring Cheesemaker award was also announced; with Clara Autet from Grinning Gecko receiving the accolade. Clara has a Bachelor of Science specialising in Food Science and Nutrition from the University of Auckland.
NZ Champions of Cheese 2021 Category Trophies are:
- ECOLAB Champion Blue Cheese Award - Puhoi Valley Pakiri Beach Blue
- Tetra Pak Champion Retail Cheddar Cheese Award - Kāpiti Te Tihi Premium Aged Cheddar
- Wintec Champion Bulk Cheddar Cheese Award - Fonterra NZMP Vintage
- AsureQuality Champion Dutch Style Cheese Award - Mahoe Very Old Edam
- NZSCA Champion European Style Cheese Award - Thorvald Little River Estate Aged Swiss
- dish magazine Champion Sheep Cheese Award - Geraldine Cheese Gouda
- 180 degrees New Zealand Champion Export Cheese Award - Kāpiti Te Tihi Premium Aged Cheddar
- Sabato Champion Farmhouse Cheese Award - Meyer Cheese Cumin & Cloves
- Big Chill Distribution Champion Flavour Added Cheese Award - Meyer Cheese Smoked Gouda
- IFF Champion Fresh Unripened Cheese Award - Clevedon Buffalo Salted Curd
- Cheeselinks Champion Fresh Italian Style Cheese Award – Massimo’s Burrata
- Good George Brewing Champion Goat Cheese Award - The Drunken Nanny Black Tie Petite
- Kiwi Labels Champion Greek/Cypriot Cheese Award - Puhoi Valley Cow’s Milk Feta
- New Zealand Food Safety Champion New Cheese Award - Whitestone Oamaru Blue
- Fonterra Co-operative Group Champion Original Cheese Award - Geraldine Cheese Aged Deer Gouda
- CHR Hansen Champion Soft White Rind Cheese Award - Remutaka Pass Creamery Summit Snow
- Thermaflo Champion Washed Rind Cheese Award - Grinning Gecko Kau Piro
The NZ Champions of Cheese 2021 Special Awards are:
- New World Cheese Lovers’ Choice - Kapiti Kikorangi Blue
- Innovative Packaging Aspiring Cheesemaker - Clara Autet, Grinning Gecko
- Ignite Colleges Chef’s Choice Award - Karikaas Pumahana
- Curds & Whey Champion Homecrafted Cheese & Cheesemaker - St Peters College, SPC Blue
- C’est Cheese Champion Butter - Lewis Road Creamery Garlic & Parsley Butter
- Countdown Champion Yoghurt Award - Clevedon Buffalo Lemon Zest Yoghurt