New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) is pleased to confirm that judging of the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2021 will go ahead in Hamilton this weekend.

Planning for this year’s Awards always involved a contingency in the case that Covid-19 prompted a lockdown in Auckland. The contingency, judging at Hamilton’s WINTEC Rotokauri campus will swing into action.

Assuming the country outside of Auckland stays at Level 2, judging will occur at WINTEC under Level 2 on Saturday 20 February for yoghurt and butter and Sunday 21 February for cheese. Judging on both days will occur with appropriate social distancing, sanitiser and other health authority recommended measures.

For the 310+ cheese, butter and yoghurts entered into this year’s Awards that means samples can be sent to WINTEC Rotokauri, by midday Friday this week.

For judges and stewards coming from outside of Auckland that means, where possible, they can change their travel plans to attend the judging at WINTEC on Sunday 21 February.

Judges and stewards from Auckland can assess their availability after the health authorities have made a decision on the length of the Auckland lockdown on Wednesday or Thursday.

The Awards are owned and organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) and NZSCA Chair Neil Willman made special note of the support of Hamilton’s WINTEC. “We are very grateful for their ability to swing into action at short notice and help us support the country’s dairy industry.”

Awards entries for this year were up significantly on recent years. This year the judges will assess more 360 products over two days. That compares to 300 last year and 276 entries in 2019.

Jason Tarrant will lead the judging team. Tarrant is the first New Zealander to the head judging for the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards following the eight-year reign of Australian, Russell Smith. Last year another Australian, Scott Bolch was announced as Smith’s successor but the Covid travel ban means Bolch is unavailable.

The Awards are owned and organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) and NZSCA Chair Neil Willman said medal winners will be named on Tuesday 16 March with the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Gala Dinner at Sky City in Hamilton on Wednesday 5 May 2021.

He thanked NZ Champions of Cheese loyal sponsors saying their ongoing support made the celebration of New Zealand’s cheese industry possible.

The NZ Champions of Cheese 2021 Trophies are:

Countdown Champion of Champions (Commercial)
New World Champion of Champions (Mid-sized)
Puhoi Valley Champion of Champions (Boutique)
MilkTestNZ Champion Cheesemaker
Fonterra Co-operative Group Champion Original Cheese
ECOLAB Champion Blue Cheese
New Zealand Food Safety Champion New Cheese
CHR Hansen Champion Soft White Rind Cheese
Kiwi Labels Champion Greek/Cypriot Cheese
Cheeselinks Champion Fresh Italian Style Cheese
IFF/Danisco Champion Fresh Unripened Cheese
AsureQuality Champion Dutch Style Cheese
Champion European Style Cheese
Sabato Champion Farmhouse Cheese
Thermaflo Champion Washed Rind
Big Chill Distribution Champion Flavoured Cheese
Tetra Pak Champion Retail Cheddar Cheese
Champion Bulk Cheddar Cheese
Good George Brewing Champion Goat Cheese
dish magazine Champion Sheep Cheese
New Zealand Champion Export Cheese

Special Awards
Innovative Packaging Aspiring Cheesemaker
Curds & Whey Champion Homecrafted Cheesemaker and Cheese
New World Cheese Lovers’ Choice
Ignite Colleges Chef’s Choice
C‘est Cheese Champion Butter
Countdown Champion Yoghurt

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