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Artisan entrepreneurs’ home craft cheese takes top awards

Artisan entrepreneurs’ home craft cheese takes top awards

Passionate South Auckland food purist, Bri DiMattina, is celebrating the success of her home crafted cheese after winning two top awards at the 2014 NZ Champions of Cheese Awards.

Self-described as the ‘ultimate food lover’, Bri was presented with the Curds & Whey Champion Home Crafted Cheese Award for her fresh white cheese ‘Formaggio de Latte Fresco Agilo’ and the Curds & WheyChampion Home Crafted Cheesemaker Award, at a gala dinner and awards ceremony at The Langham, Auckland on Tuesday night (March 4).

Bri attributes her success to the years she spent working in the food and beverage industry as a chef, and says her passion for cheese making comes from her Nona’s (Italian grandma’s) recipe books, which she adapted her winning cheese recipe from.

“I am thrilled to have been acknowledged by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association for my Italian cheese ‘Formaggio de Latte Fresco Agilo’, which means fresh white cheese, with a garlic flavor,” Bri said.

“It’s been a very interesting and rewarding ride, and I hope I can inspire other artisan producers to have a crack at cheese making as there is really nothing to lose.”

The Home Crafted category gives ‘hobbyist’ cheese makers a chance to showcase their creations. To be eligible, cheese must not be made for retail distribution and the annual volume must not exceed 100kgs.

“I first entered the awards in 2011 where I won a bronze medal for my Italian flavored Ricotta, which my husband insisted was just a ‘lucky shot’. This time I decided to enter my soft white cheese, which I would describe as a fromage made from milk and cream,” Bri said.

Russell Smith, 2014 NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Master Judge noted Bri’s impressive attention to taste and texture.

“Bri’s fresh white cheese was beautifully creamy with just the right amount of garlic to give it an extra bite. She should be extremely proud of her final product.”

Bri’s cheese ‘Formaggio de Latte Fresco Agilo’ was also awarded a gold medal, which Smith said is an incredible achievement for a ‘hobbyist’ cheese maker.

Bri’s cheese making passion and strong desire to support other artisan growers and producers led her to launch ‘The Market’ late last year.

‘The Market’ is an online collection of products from small yet avid artisan growers and producers who care about the food they produce.

“Once my son reached school it was too time consuming to continue working as chef as well as keeping up my hobby of sourcing great quality artisan food,” Bri said.

“The Market was the perfect solution to all my problems. I could work from home whilst continuing my passion of connecting artisans directly with chefs, who are looking for great products without the hassle and expense of distributors.”

Although Bri does not sell her Italian style cheese through ‘The Market’, she is more than happy to share it amongst close friends and family along with fresh vegetables and other produce from her garden.

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