Grand Champion 50 years in the making at Quality Cheese

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A half-century after Almerigo Borgo Sr. emigrated from Italy and started making what to this day is his favourite cheese, his Ricotta was named the best of the best at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix last night when it was honored as the 2013 Grand Champion.

Albert Borgo and his wife, Gabriella, were in the audience for the awards ceremony in Montreal and they were pleased when their Ricotta was judged Best Fresh Cheese early in the evening. Just before the Grand Champion was announced, Gabriella whispered to Albert: “Is there a chance we could win?” Albert replied, “No, no chance.”

Surprise!

Moments later Albert was on the stage accepting the award for the family business, Quality Cheese of Vaughan, Ontario, while Gabriella texted the good news to his brother, Bill, the cheesemaker. There are four generations involved in the business. The father still “comes by and pokes around the plant.”

“I’m not used to being treated like a rock star,” Albert said later.”This is really incredible, and a great honour for my father and my brothers.”

Being the first Ontario cheese producer to win the Grand Prix was akin to the “Leafs beating the Canadiens,” Albert said. Quebec cheesemakers have dominated the competition since its inception.

Albert Borgo. I'm not used to being treated like a rock star.

Albert Borgo. I’m not used to being treated like a rock star.

Chef Michael Howell of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, a member of the jury that selected the Grand Champion and 19 category winners, praised the Ricotta made by Quality Cheese: “I’ve traveled in Italy from top to bottom and tasted many a Ricotta, but there is no question, this Ricotta is the best I’ve ever tasted.”

Sponsored and hosted every two years by Dairy Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix celebrates the high quality, versatility and great taste of Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian cow’s milk.

The first time many of the winners will be available for tasting and purchase by the public in one place will be at the third annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 1-2 in Picton in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, just south of Belleville in Bay of Quinte Region.

A stunning dessert

A stunning dessert made with the Grand Champion Ricotta concluded the Grand Prix Gala. From the left, Mise en bouche de Ricotta in its natural state, an exquisite Creme Brule made with the Ricotta and Coureur de Bois Maple Syrup, and a delicious Tarte Tatin with Ricotta Imperial-style.

For more on the Grand Champion, watch the video.

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