In just its second year of entering the annual NZ Cheese Awards, Waikato-based Kaimai Cheeses medal haul includes two golds, three silvers, four bronze and a trophy.

It would be a respectable haul for a large, long-established cheese maker, but Kaimai has only been making cheese since November 2007. Even so, tradition runs deep.

“Right from the start, Kaimai has been dedicated to using all the traditional methods that guarantee a real depth of flavour in its cheeses,” says general manager Sheryn Cook. “Much modern cheese is produced in large quantities in standardised processes that allow for maximum efficiency, but are not particularly sympathetic to each individual cheese.  Feta is a good example of this, as it is a cheese that has grown in popularity over time, which results in many poorly made and cheaply produced varieties on the market – we are thrilled our Feta has been awarded as it epitomises why shortcuts should not be taken.”

“Kaimai cheeses are made with a dedication to old, traditional methods for each variety. This ensures all the advantageous micro-organisms and flavour compounds come to the fore and produce unbeatable taste and texture.”

That tradition is even visible in the building that houses its new factory, shop and café – it’s a replica of an old, historic New Zealand 1920s Butter Factory. Trusses and roof vents from the original butter factory are cleverly used in the design of the building, emphasising the reverence for what is old, tried and trusted.

And its cheesemakers are dedicated to giving each style of cheese the conditions it needs to be truly great.

“Traditionally cheeses were ripened in well-ventilated rooms at ambient temperatures,” says Ms Cook. “For example, Emmental is matured at 20 degrees for one month, Roquefort at 12 degrees in its caves.  “When cheeses are ripened in the conditions they suit – rather than the low-temperature, standardised conditions present in may mass-produced cheese factories – the develop into exquisitely flavoured cheeses. That is what we aim for at Kaimai.”

So for the second year in a row, it’s ka pai for Kaimai – well done!

Kaimai’s award-winning cheeses:

Te Mata Creamy Blue  Benny Mathews   Gold, Bronze

Te Mata Irongate  Benny Mathews   Silver

Te Mata Kidnappers  Benny Mathews   Bronze

Te Mata Pakipaki  Benny Mathews   Silver

Kaimai Feta  Allan Gillett    Trophy, Gold & Silver

Kaimai Creamy Blue  Allan Gillett    Gold, Bronze

Kaimai Bocconcini  Chris Williams    Bronze

Fresh In The Kitchen thoroughly recommends a visit to the Kaimai Cheese Factory and Cafe near Matamata. Gorgeous food, friendly staff, amazing menu around their cheeses and the cafe is dog and kid friendly!

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