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Young “upstart” wins top cheese award

4 March 2008

Young “upstart” wins top cheese award

A young three-month aged goat’s cheese whose name means “upstart” was tonight named New Zealand’s top artisan cheese.

Crescent Dairy Goats’ Parvenu won the Cuisine Champion Artisan Cheese Award at a gala dinner for the Cuisine Champions of Cheese Awards.

It’s the second major success for Crescent’s Jan and John Walter, who last year won the Champion of Champion’s Award with another of their fine goat cheeses.

Based in Albany, just north of Auckland, Crescent’s Jan Walter says Parvenu got its name because “it’s a bit too young and clever for its age”.

Winning a major award two years in a row is “amazing”, she said, putting it down to the hands-on, personal attention given to every cheese that’s made. Crescent Dairy Goats makes just one cheese a day.

“We have total control of the whole process, from milking the goats, selecting even the goats that we want for milking and making sure that the milk for the cheese is as sweet as it can be,” she said.

Each of their goats is lovingly named, from Nimbus to mother and daughter Christine and Agatha and family group Flute, Fiddle and Viola.

Crescent Dairy Goats also won the Fonterra Champion Original Cheese Award with its Flat White Cheese.

Newcomer to the competition, Clevedon Valley Buffalo Company, the first producer to enter fresh buffalo milk cheese in the awards, won two top categories for its Buffalo Ricotta – the NZ Food Safety Authority Champion New Cheese Award and SKYCITY Champion Fresh Unripened Cheese Award.

Judges said the overall quality of entries in this year’s awards was outstanding, with 62% of the 406 cheeses winning a gold, silver or bronze medal. “When I looked at the championship round and saw 60 or so products that were of gold medal status, or very close to it, I was just blown away,” said Master Judge Neil Willman.

“New Zealand produces a great diversity of cheeses which is not seen in other countries,” he said. “And the overall standard of the industry is increasing at a rapid rate.”

The fifth annual Cuisine Champions of Cheese Awards were presented at a gala dinner at Auckland’s SKYCITY tonight.

More than 400 entries for this year’s awards were judged at Massey University’s Albany campus by 26 judges on Sunday.

The other top prize, the Taylor’s Port Champion of Champions Award, went to Fonterra Brands NZ’s Ferndale Maestro Blue, made by Hospitality Magazine Champion Cheesemaker Keven (crct) Saywell.


Editor’s Note:

Master Judge Neil Willman Profile

Australian Master Cheesemaker and Cheese Grader Neil Willman is the new Master Judge for the 2008 Cuisine NZ Champions of Cheese Awards. Willman is Australia’s only fulltime cheese educator and trainer and has, for 26 years, been responsible for all the cheese education and training programmes at Gilbert Chandler College, Australia’s only dedicated dairy college.

He has been an international judge at the World Championship Cheese Contest and the British Cheese Awards, as well as at previous Cuisine NZ Champions of Cheese Awards. Willman has also been chief judge at the Australian Grand Dairy Awards, the Royal Sydney Easter Show, CheeseFest in Adelaide, and the Dairy Industry Association of Australia National Dairy Product Competition.

Neil will be in New Zealand until Saturday 8 March and is available for interviews.

Cuisine NZ Champion Cheese Awards 2008 winners:

**Winners can’t be contacted until after the embargo is lifted.


Taylor’s Port Champion of Champions Award
Ferndale Maestro Blue - Fonterra Brands NZ

Cuisine Champion Artisan Cheese
Parvenu – Crescent Dairy Goats

SKYCITY Champion Fresh Unripened Cheese Award
Buffalo Ricotta – Clevedon Valley Buffalo Company

NZ Cheese School Champion Feta Cheese Award
Ornelle Chevre Salade – Puhoi Valley Cheese

Innovative Packaging Soft White Rind Cheese Award
Te Mata Goats Milk Brie – Te Mata Cheese Co

NZSCA Champion Goat Cheese Award
Parvenu - Crescent Dairy Goats

Massey University Champion Sheep Cheese Award
Neudorf Ewes Milk Cheese – Neudorf Dairy

New World Champion Washed Rind Cheese Award
Kapiti Ramara – Fonterra Brands NZ

Ecolab Champion Blue Cheese Award
Ferndale Maestro Blue – Fonterra Brands NZ

Foodtown Woolworths Champion European Style Cheese Award
Kapiti NZ Parmesan – Fonterra Brands NZ

Foodtown Woolworths Champion Dutch Style Cheese Award
Mercer Mature Gouda – Mercer Cheese

NZ Food Safety Authority Champion New Cheese Award
Buffalo Ricotta – Clevedon Valley Buffalo Company

Fonterra Champion Original Cheese Award
Flat White – Crescent Dairy Goats

Hally Labels Champion Flavoured Cheese Award
Fenugreek Gouda – Meyer Gouda Cheese

Hally Labels Champion Cheddar Cheese Award
Fonterra Lichfield Cheddar – Fonterra Lichfield

New Zealand Trade & Enterprise Champion Export Cheese Award
Kapiti Kikorangi – Fonterra Brands NZ

New World Champion Favourite Cheese Award
Kapiti Kikorangi – Fonterra Brands NZ

Curious Design Cheese Packaging Award
Kingsmeade Artisan Cheese - Kingsmeade

Curds & Whey Champion Hobbyist Cheese
Fresh Goat Cheese (Coulommier style)

Katherine Mowbray Champion Hobbyist Cheesemaker Award
Venetia Hill

Hospitality Magazine Champion Cheesemaker
Keven Saywell, cheesemaker at Fonterra Eltham


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