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Golden Days for New Zealand Cheese Champions

Media release 5 April 2006

Golden Days for New Zealand Cheese Champions

The champion New Zealand cheeses of 2006 were announced last night at the Cuisine Champions of Cheese Awards Gala Dinner held at Hyatt Regency Auckland.

The results revealed more gold medals were awarded than ever before, testament to the continuing strength of cheesemaking in New Zealand.

The Cuisine Champions of Cheese Awards were the culmination of a week-long cheese competition which began with the arrival of 500 cheeses on Friday for judging on Sunday by a panel of 32 distinguished judges, headed by US-based Master Judge John Greeley.

Coming from all corners of the country, almost 500 cheeses making up nearly two tonnes of cheese were entered in this annual competition, which recognises excellence in New Zealand cheesemaking.

Whitestone Windsor Blue, made by Oamaru cheese company, Whitestone was presented with the ultimate award for fine New Zealand cheesemaking – the Cuisine Champion of Champions Award 2006. Judges describe it as a creamy blue with a golden soft buttery texture and a silky smooth mouthfeel. It has a unique blue culture that dissects the rich curd and combines to produce a delicate deep flavour which intensifies with ageing.

Whitestone Windsor Blue is already New Zealand’s most decorated cheese, with nine trophies and nine gold medals from previous competitions. It won a gold medal in the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Champion Export Cheese category before taking out the supreme accolade of Cuisine Champion of Champions.

In a surprise announcement revealed on the night, this year’s Cuisine Champion of Champions will receive an all expenses paid trip to attend the World Gourmet Summit in Singapore in April 2007. Award organiser, Vikki Lee Goode, says this will be a unique opportunity for a New Zealand exporter like Whitestone to gain international recognition and profile within the international culinary community.

The Award for New Zealand’s favourite cheese – The New World Champion Favourite Cheese – went to Puhoi Valley Camembert, for the third year in a row. This Award was decided by national sales and New World customer votes.

Master Judge John Greeley comments: “All the fundamentals were there for a very successful competition this year, with strong entries across all categories and many new cheeses that were not entered or available last year.”

“The quality of New Zealand specialty cheese is very impressive but I believe there has been improvement and more innovation happening, especially in the Soft Ripened section, since my last visit. This is evident in the number of gold medals awarded. I was also pleased to see the large number of feta cheeses entered in the competition made from different milk sources.”

John says cheddars were strong again this year – traditionally a cheese New Zealand is well known for. He also remarked on the quality of the Dutch-style cheeses, which he says use ageing practices to good effect.

According to John, blue cheese continues to be a great strength for the New Zealand cheesemakers. “The sheer number of entries in this category and the quality of what I have seen supports this,” he says.

Judging the hobbyist cheeses was also a real eye-opener, says John. “I look forward to seeing even more of them next year as it demonstrates the passion for New Zealand specialty cheese even at amateur level.”

Winners in the Cuisine Champions of Cheese Awards 2006 were:

Hyatt Regency Auckland Champion Firm Unripened Cheese
Canaan Cheeses – Zefatit Feta with Basil Pesto

Label & Litho Champion Soft Unripened Cheese
Meadowfresh NZ - Tararua Cottage Cheese with Garlic and Chives

Innovative Packaging Champion Soft Ripened Cheese
Waimata Cheese Company – Taepo

Foodtown Champion Firm Cheese (aged over 180 days)
Crescent Dairy Goats – Farmhouse Mature

Ecolab Champion Washed Rind Cheese
Neudorf Dairy – Richmond Red

Champion Aged Cheddar
Fonterra Brands – Mainland Anniversary Cheddar

Sealed Air Champion Young Cheddar
Fonterra Brands – Mainland Vegetarian Mild Cheddar

AgriQuality Champion New Cheese
Te Mata Cheese Company – Pacifica Blue

Hally Labels Champion Blue Cheese
Fonterra Brands – Mainland Special Reserve Blue Vein

Champion Flavoured Cheese
Fonterra Brands – Ferndale Old Southern Waxed Smoked Cheddar

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Champion Export Cheese
Fonterra Hautapu – Egmont

Fonterra Champion Original New Zealand Cheese
Crescent Dairy Goats – Old Gold

New World Champion Favourite Cheese
Puhoi Valley Cheese – Puhoi Valley Camembert

New World Champion Semi-Soft Cheese
Crescent Dairy Goats – Farm Semi Soft

Curious Design Champion Cheese Packaging
Kapiti Fine Foods – Bocconcini

Taylor’s Port Champion Cheeseboard
Christchurch Gondola’s Pinnacle Restaurant

Katherine Mowbray Champion Hobbyist Cheesemaker
Lorraine Hogg

Curds & Whey Champion Hobbyist Cheese
Goat GoChives

Food and Beverage Magazine Champion Cheesemaker
Richelle Ward – Fonterra Brands

Whitestone Cheese – Whitestone Windsor Blue

The New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards was launched in 2004 by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association Inc.


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