Blind tasting of 290 cheeses under way for new Awards

Logo - Cheese of the Year

Somebody’s got to do it—taste 290 cheeses over a day and a half!

That’s precisely what 10 experts will be doing this week in order to evaluate and score cheeses entered in the inaugural Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens. The new and independent competition—with Loblaw Companies as its Marquee Sponsor—has immediately become the biggest cheese competition in Canada with 75 producers from Newfoundland to British Columbia submitting 290 cheeses for judging.

Judging will take place at University of Guelph, Department of Food Science, headed by Dr. Arthur Hill, Chair and Professor in Food Science and an internationally recognized authority in cheese technology, who will serve as Chief Judge.

Finalists in 18 main categories will be announced March 7. Winners will be revealed during an Awards Ceremony, Reception and Tasting on April 7 at St. Lawrence Market, Toronto, that will be open to the public. Tickets will go on sale March 7.

It is the first cheese competition in Canada open to all milks used in cheesemaking—cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo—with only pure natural cheese accepted for judging. That means no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no modified milk ingredients.

“We aim to honour and celebrate 100% pure natural cheese that has achieved technical excellence and exhibits the highest aesthetic qualities,” says Georgs Kolesnikovs, Awards Chairman.

As a service to the cheese industry and a guide for consumers, Canadian Cheese Awards is being organized by The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada held annually in June in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, in Bay of Quinte Region near Belleville. Kolesnikovs is founder and director of the Cheese Festival.

Canadian Cheese Awards aims to recognize excellence in 18 main categories, eight special awards, five regional awards and the one very best cheese in Canada, the Grand Champion promoted as the Canadian Cheese of the Year with the support of Loblaw Companies and other sponsors.

Logo - Fromage d'exceptionAn extensive knowledge of cheese, on technical basis as well as aesthetic values, was the key factor in selection of the Jury, the judges who will evaluate and score entries following blind tasting of the cheese. Members of the Jury are:

Anita Stewart, culinary activist, author and founder of Food Day Canada, in her role as Food Laureate, University of Guelph, will welcome judges to Guelph.

Mary Ann Ferrer, Research Associate, Department of Food Science, University of Guelph, serves as Judging Co-ordinator. Jackie Armet, Cheese Co-ordinator, The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, and a cheesemonger at Whole Foods Market in Yorkville, serves as Cheese Co-ordinator. Rebecca Crosgrey, Event Co-ordinator, The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, serves as Entry Co-ordinator.

The mission of Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens is three-fold:

  • to promote the best in Canadian cheese of all milks,
  • to create a recognized symbol of excellence for all Canadian cheese,
  • to offer expert feedback to all producers who submit entries by providing them with evaluation reports prepared by the judges.

For the biennial competition in the future, the Awards Ceremony will rotate Montréal 2016, Vancouver 2018 and Toronto 2020 while judging will remain at University of Guelph.

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The judging on February 27 and 28 is not open to the public. Media access for photography and interviews can be arranged via Georgs Kolesnikovs, awards@cheeselover.ca.