Cheese producers in Québec, the birthplace of the artisan cheese movement in Canada 25 years ago ago, dominated the 2015 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix when winners were announced last night.
Fritz Kaiser, one of the pioneers in artisan cheesemaking in the 1980s, was named champion in three categories for cheese made by Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser:
- Washed- or Mixed-Rind Semi-soft Cheese: Raclette
- Flavoured Cheese with added non-particulate flavourings (except smoked cheese): Griffon Raclette
- Flavoured Cheese with added particulate solids and flavourings: Pepper Raclette.
Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser is distributed across Canada by Fromages CDA under the Amour & Tradition banner. Fromages CDA, named for its founder and president Daniel Allard, will take over an entire wing at the upcoming Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, representing a total of 10 artisan producers from Québec, including the following Grand Prix champions and finalists:
- Semi-soft Cheese Champion: Fleur de Weedon, Fromagerie P’tit Plaisir, QC
- Fresh Cheese with grilling properties: Le Fleur St-Michel, Fromagerie du Terroir de Bellechasse, QC
- Semi-soft Cheese: St-Paulin, Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser Inc., QC
- Washed- or Mixed-Rind Soft Cheese: L’Empereur, Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser Inc., QC
- Washed- or Mixed-Rind Semi-soft Cheese: Tête Dure, Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser Inc., QC
- Washed- or Mixed-Rind Semi-soft Cheese: Le Mamirolle, Fromagerie Rang 9, QC
- Washed- or Mixed-Rind Firm Cheese: La Meule des champs, Fromagerie Rang 9, QC
- Washed- or Mixed-Rind Firm Cheese: Le Blackburn, Fromagerie Blackburn, QC
- Swiss-type Cheese: Miranda, Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser Inc., QC
- Blue Cheese: Bleu Bénédictin, Fromagerie Abbaye de Saint-Benoît-du-Lac, QC
- Organic Cheese: Le Baluchon, Fromagerie F. X. Pichet, QC
Altogether, Québec cheese producers won 13 out of 27 categories in the Grand Prix plus the coveted Grand Champion.
Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère also won in three categories:
- Cream-Enriched Soft Cheese with Bloomy Rind: Laliberté
- Swiss-Type Cheese: Louis d’Or
- Blue Cheese: Le Bleu d’Élizabeth.
With Laliberté, Morin was honoured as Grand Champion—the best of the best in Canada.
Other category champions from Québec:
- Fresh Cheese with grilling properties: Le Paillasson de l’isle d’Orléans, Les Fromages de l’isle d’Orléans, QC
- Washed- or Mixed-Rind Soft Cheese: L’Origine de Charlevoix, Laiterie Charlevoix Inc., QC
- Washed- or Mixed-Rind Firm Cheese: Alfred Le Fermier 18 months, Fromagerie La Station, QC
- Mild Cheddar (aged 3 months): L’Ancêtre Organic Mild Cheddar, Fromagerie L’Ancêtre Inc., QC
- Medium Cheddar (aged 4 to 9 months): L’Ancêtre Organic Medium Cheddar, Fromagerie L’Ancêtre Inc., QC
- Organic Cheese: Alfred Le Fermier 18 months, Fromagerie La Station, QC
The biggest winner outside of Quebec was Sylvan Star Cheese which won three categories:
- Smoked Cheese: Gouda Smoked Natural Cheese, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB
- Gouda (aged 1 to 6 months): Gouda Medium, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB
- Aged Gouda: Gouda Aged, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB
Other category champions outside Québec:
- Fresh Cheese: Ricotta / Bella Casara, Quality Cheese Inc., ON
- Fresh Pasta Filata: Cherry Bocconcini, Natural Pastures Cheese Company, BC
- Soft Cheese with bloomy rind: Comox Brie, Natural Pastures Cheese Company, BC
- Firm Cheese (except Cheddar and Gouda): Heidi, The Farm House Natural Cheeses, BC
- Mozzarella (Ball, Brick or Cylinder) or Pasta Filata: Oaxaca, Local Dairy Products, ON
- Brine-ripened Cheese: Feta Cheese, Tiras Dairies Inc., AB
- Extra Aged Gouda: Mountainoak Farmstead Premium Dutch Gold, Mountainoak Cheese Ltd., ON
- Old Cheddar (aged from 9 months to a year): Traditional Clothbound Cheddar (9 to 12 months), The Farm House Natural Cheeses, BC
- Aged Cheddar (1 to 3 years): Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, Cows Creamery, PE
- Aged Cheddar (more than 3 years): Extra Old Cheddar 5 Years, St-Albert Cheese Cooperative Inc., ON
- Farmhouse Cheese: Handeck, Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese Ltd., ON
The Gala of Champions unfolded at Liberty Grand in Toronto, scene of a lavish awards ceremony cum cheese-tasting organized by Dairy Farmers of Canada. DFC has sponsored of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix since launching the biennial competition in 1998 to celebrate the high quality and proud tradition of Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian cow’s milk.
A jury of Canadian food industry experts selected from the Grand Champion and 27 category winners from a record-setting 268 cheese entries submitted by cheesemakers from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia. The submissions were then narrowed down to 81 finalists by the jury in February.
Laliberté will be the featured cheese and Jean Morin the guest of honour at the fifth anniversary Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 6-7 in Picton, Ontario. Many of the Grand Prix winners will also be in the spotlight at what has become the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada representing producers from coast to coast.