Give the gift of Cheese Festival tickets!

Cheese lovers in your life will appreciate a holiday gift of tickets to the 2015 Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

We will send you a personalized gift certificate for the ticket recipient, upon receipt of your ticket order. The certificate will be a PDF that you can forward by e-mail or print for giving in person with the gift tickets. If you prefer, we can e-mail, on your behalf, holiday greetings to the recipient with the gift tickets.

Tickets are $50 plus HST each. Admission includes 10 tasting tickets, glass for sampling wine, beer and cider, access to more than 125 exhibitors and vendors, cheese seminars and dairy farm, and an insulated Festival tote bag for your purchases. Rush seating for seminars and presentations. FREE parking.

Click here to place your order. Please allow five days for the arrival of gift certificates.

The fifth anniversary Cheese Festival takes place June 6-7, 2015, at Picton Fairgrounds in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, just south of Belleville in Bay of Quinte Region.

For more information, visit or telephone 1-866-865-2628 toll-free.

Click here to receive news about next year’s Festival and special offers.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is produced by Cheese Lover Productions with the generous support of Celebrate Ontario and our Diamond Sponsor, Dairy Farmers of Canada.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs, cheese-head-in-chief at is founder and director of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival

Jean Morin wins again with Louis d’Or and Pionnier

Louis d'Or.

Louis d’Or.

Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère is Grand Champion twice over at this year’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.

His Louis d’Or is Grand Champion in the cow’s milk variety cheese class. Pionnier, made with a blend of cow’s and sheep’s milk in collaboration with Marie-Chantal Houde of Fromagerie Nouvelle France, is Grand Champion in the goat and sheep milk variety cheese class.

Marie-Chantal Houde and Jean Morin with Pionnier.

Marie-Chantal Houde and Jean Morin with Pionnier.

The 18-month Farmstead Gouda made by Adam van Bergejik of Mountainoak Cheese is Reserve Grand Champion in cow milk.

Adam van Bergejik.

Adam van Bergejik.

Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar made by Pieter van Oudenaren of Lenberg Farms/Mariposa Dairy is Reserve Grand Champion in goat and sheep milk.

Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar.

Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar.

Grand Champion in cheddar cheese is Black Diamond Mild Cheddar made by Parmalat Canada, now part of Groupe Lactalis, the world’s largest dairy producer. Parmalat dominated all cheddar categories except:

Click here for complete results.





Fresh: Water buffalo mozzarella at its best

Buffalo Mozzarella from Élevages Buffalo Maciocia.

Fresh mozzarella made in Québec with water buffalo milk—just like it has been made in Italy since the 12th century—is now available to cheese lovers in Ontario.

Élevages Buffalo Maciocia, home of the largest water-buffalo herd in Canada, has teamed with Fromagerie Polyethnique to make its Buffalo Mozzarella by hand and with Off The Bone Meat Products to distribute the cheese to retailers, such as Scheffler’s Delicatessen & Cheese at St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, the same day or next day.

Mozzarella di bufala is at its best within two or three days of production. It’s soft and elastic and delicious from Day One but seems to gain buttery flavour by the second or third day.

Élevages Buffalo Maciocia first entered the Québec market and then Ontario with its Bufala Yogurt, a richer yogurt than what’s made with cow’s milk. It now also offers Bufala Majestic, a semi-firm ripened cheese with a mixed rind that’s made by Lucille Giroux at Fromagerie Moutonnière. We fell in love with Majestic when we sampled it at Rendez-vous Gourmet Québec in Toronto on Monday. Creamy, with lots of character and a pinch of saltiness.

Élevages Buffalo Maciocia, located in Saint Charles sur Richelieu one hour northeast of Montréal, imported 285 water buffalo from Vermont in 2009. Since then, the herd has grown to 500 head with 150 giving milk at any time.

Water buffalo at Élevages Buffalo Maciocia.

Water buffalo at Élevages Buffalo Maciocia.

Louis Hébert, who manages the cheese operation for the Maciocia family, points out that water buffalo produce milk “rich in fat and protein which is very tasty and can be tolerated by many lactose intolerant people.”

It took five years to develop the water buffalo herd and the process of making the mozzarella the way owner Mario Maciocia wanted it to taste. Much trial and error, experts and equipment from Italy, and $300,000 from the federal and Quebec government helped make it happen.

The Maciocia mozzarella is not the first produced in Québec—the vast majority of the milk produced is still bought by the giant Saputo for factory processing—but Maciocia offers a hand-crafted product. The cheese is stretched and spun by hand, delivered to the consumer within 24 to 48 hours. The production happens Wednesday to Friday, destined for sale in delicatessens, cheese shops and restaurants from Thursday to Sunday.

Louis Herbert of Élevages Buffalo Maciocia. is flanked by Rebecca Guida and Alfredo Santangelo of Off the Bone Meat Products.

Louis Herbert of Élevages Buffalo Maciocia is flanked by Rebecca Guida and Alfredo Santangelo of Off the Bone Meat Products.

As is the case with cheese curds, freshness is one of the best guarantees of quality.

“There is nothing like eating a mozzarella made ​​in the morning,” says Mario Maciocia, something that is not possible with even the fastest transport plane from Italy.

The challenge of immediate distribution was not insurmountable, according to Louis Hébert. After all, Québecers already have experience in the field of rapid distribution of fresh products, thanks to the popularity of cheese curds. For both curds and mozza, quality is directly proportional to the time that elapses between the moment the cheese is made and when it arrives on your table.




Jamie Kennedy: Good food as a way of life

Jamie Kennedy's first cookbook in more than a decade.

Jamie Kennedy’s first cookbook in more than a decade.

J.K. The Jamie Kennedy Cookbook is much more than a cookbook. It’s a warm and personal memoir by one of Canada’s most influential chefs connecting a collection of 121 of his favourite recipes—with appealing reportage photography rather than the highly stylized photos usually seen in cookbooks.

The new book is very much like J.K. himself: Personable, down to earth, without a hint of ego or pretense, with a vision of good food as a way of life seasoned by four decades at the leading edge of gastronomy in Canada.

Like no one before him, Jamie Kennedy popularized eating and cooking with local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients, a theme that runs through the book.

Official launch party at Gilead Café & Wine Bar last night.

Official launch party at Gilead Café & Wine Bar last night.

For cheese lovers, there are two chapters on cheese featuring a dozen recipes that we cannot wait to try—all using Ontario cheese, of course. Here’s a sampling:

  • Pickled Vegetables with Niagara Gold Fondue
  • Sheep’s Milk Cheese-Filled Squash Flower with Fresh Tomato Sauce
  • Potato Gnocchi with Thunder Oak Gouda Sauce
  • Wild Rice Crackers that are always included in J.K. cheese plates.

J.K. makes special mention of the cheddars from Black River Cheese, the gouda from Thunder Oak Cheese Farm, and Niagara Gold from Upper Canada Cheese. Cape Vessey, a firm goat cheese made by the original Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, is also cited. He gives credit to Petra Kassun-Mutch of Fifth Town and Ruth Klahsen of Monforte Dairy for helping to reshape and revitalize the artisan cheese industry in Ontario.

Those who have been fortunate enough to attend the Gastronomy on the Farm dinners on the Chef’s own farm in Prince Edward County, held in conjunction with The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, will recognize many photos and the anecdote about a sudden summer rain filling champagne flutes before the reception started.

Those who attended the Cooks & Curds Gala at the first two Cheese Festivals will find the recipes for Chef’s famed frites and his braised beef and braised oxtail poutines in the book.

What would a Jamie Kennedy event be without his famous J.K. Fries?

What would a Jamie Kennedy event be without his famous J.K. Fries?

Scattered throughout the book are testimonials and comments by a broad range of J.K. alumni, food writers, family members and other chefs. Michael Stadtlander, with whom J.K. launched legendary Scaramouche, provides the foreword. Three quotes:

Much of the food we enjoy in Canadian restaurants today is the result of Jamie’s work in the local food movement, as he has influenced generations of chefs who share his pioneering spirit and love for real food.

—Chef Michael Stadtlander, Eigensinn Farm and Hai Sai

Now I realize that just about every major trend that would blow through Toronto in the next decade was already encapsulated in (Jamie Kennedy’s) Wine Bar: Small plates. Reasonable prices. Deliberately casual ambiance. Do-it-yourself chacuterie and preserves. Very serious cheese.

Food writer James Chatto

Nobody ever says it, so I will: Jamie Kennedy is possibly one of the most important chefs in Canada in the last fifty years. Period. Ever. You get what I’m saying? What was Canadian food until forty years ago?

—Chef David McMillan, Joe Beef, Liverpool House and Vin Papillon

We obtain the obligatory autograph from Chef.

We obtain the obligatory autograph from Chef.

Much of the credit for the success of the book belongs to Ivy Knight, who helped J.K. write the text, and to Jo Dickins for the marvelous photographs. Ivy Knight says of the experience: “Jamie has been lauded for years, ever since, at age 25, he took the reigns as head chef at Scaramouche. It absolutely boggles my mind that he has never turned into a raging egomaniac, but instead is kind and calm and has his feet firmly on the ground. I can’t think of any other chef who’s been in the game this long who can still be found working the line during a lunch rush. ”

J.K. says it was truly a collaboration that lead to the finished product published by HarperCollins Publishers and sold by Amazon and Indigo.

It’s must-read. Order it online, buy it in a book store . . . or have lunch at Gilead Café & Wine Bar, buy the book there and ask Chef to autograph it.

 —Georgs Kolesnikovs, cheese-head-in-chief at and founder of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival and Canadian Cheese Awards

Canadian Cheese Guide updated by Kathy Guidi

613UiaJ5qjLKathy Guidi, a leading authority on Canadian cheese, has written an updated edition of her Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide published in 2010. Here’s the official announcement on Canadian Cheese: A Guide by the publisher, Firefly Books.

The variety and quality of Canadian cheeses has never been so high nor has it been so popular. New handcrafted cheeses continue to emerge to critical acclaim, winning international awards. At the 2013 Global Cheese Awards in England, an aged Lankaaster by Glengarry Cheesemaking in the small town of Lancaster, Ontario, was declared “Supreme Global Champion.” As Huffington Post put it, “Canada, it’s time to celebrate cheese in a big way.”

This completely revised and updated edition of a cheese lover’s classic does just that. Canadian Cheese: A Guide is a comprehensive reference to some of the newest, best and most popular of Canadian cheeses. New and updated sections, content and photographs include:

  • concise tasting notes for 225 artisan cheeses from coast to coast
  • what’s on your cheese board—Canadian cheese professionals share their favorites
  • wine and beer pairing suggestions
  • tasting notes for Old World cheeses that have influenced New World Canadian styles
  • cheese ladder of appreciation suggestions: if you like this cheese… try this one
  • how to taste cheese like a pro
  • author and cheesemaker anecdotes
  • useful information on buying and serving cheese.

The author shares her insights on such popular cheese topics as raw milk cheese, discerning quality, whether to eat the rind (or not), cheesemaking and ingredients.

Canadian Cheese: A Guide promises to add excitement to readers’ appetites for cheese. It helps make sense of the many cheeses available at grocery stores, cheese boutiques and fromageries, and helps to break the pattern of buying the same, familiar cheese.

Author Kathy Guidi.

Author Kathy Guidi.

Professionally renowned for her work in furthering artisan and specialty cheese in the U.S. and Canada, Kathy Guidi founded the first full curriculum cheese appreciation school in North America and is a founding member of the Cheese Professional Certification Program run by American Cheese Society. Consultant to numerous cheese producers, trade organizations and consulates during a 40-year career, Kathy continues to influence and lead the domestic and international cheese world through her in-depth training  and interactive cheese tasting programs.

The new book is available via and at book and cheese stores across Canada. For bulk purchases and wholesale discount information, contact Firefly Books.

The “first full curriculum cheese appreciation school in North America” refers to Cheese Education Guild now operated by Lisa McAlpine and Marla Krisko in Toronto.



Marie-Chantal Houde: The cheesemaker as a rock star

THEN: Marie-Chantal Houde in the make room at Fromagerie du Presbytère developing Zacharie Cloutier five years ago.

THEN: Marie-Chantal Houde in the make room at Fromagerie du Presbytère developing Zacharie Cloutier five years ago.

Five years ago, on a visit to Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Elizabeth-de-Warwick two hours east of Montreal, I noticed a young woman up to her elbows in curd in the make room—even though it was Sunday.

Jean Morin, co-owner of the fromagerie, explained: “Oh, that’s Marie-Chantal (Houde). She’s developing a sheep’s milk cheese to sell under her own label. I let her use my facilities on Sundays. She’s really talented. In a few years, she’ll be a rock star in cheese.”


NOW: One of its kind in Canada, a copper vat from France is used in the making of Zacharie Cloutier and other award-winners like Pionnier and Jean Morin’s Louis d’Or.

The next year, Marie-Chantal’s new cheese, Zacharie Cloutier, made its first appearance at Québec’s prestigious cheese competition, Caseus 2011, and struck gold. The sheep’s milk cheese was named best cheese in all milks. No cheese had ever won top honours at Caseus in its first year. Her star had begun to ascend in a hurry.

At this year’s Caseus competition, Fromagerie Nouvelle France, which Marie-Chantal started five years ago with her brother Jean-Paul, dominated the competition like no other cheese producer had done in the 16-year history of Caseus—confirming Jean Morin’s prediction.

ZAC: The best sheep's milk cheese made in Québec today.

ZAC: The best sheep’s milk cheese made in Québec today.

Zacharie Cloutier was named Grand Champion as well as Gold Award winner. Nouvelle France also won the two sheep’s milk categories, Zacharie Cloutier taking washed, natural or mixed rind honours while La Madelaine was judged best bloomy rind. Additionally, Pionnier, a collaboration between Nouvelle France and Fromagerie du Presbytère, was named best blended-milk cheese.

Fromagerie Nouvelle France is based on a 250-acre farm on the outskirts of the village of Racine, in Québec’s Eastern Townships. Jean-Paul tends to the East Friesian sheep, Marie-Chantal makes the cheese.

ZAC: The best sheep's milk cheese made in Québec today.

SIBLINGS: Jean-Paul looks after the East Friesians, Marie-Chantal makes the cheese. They’re the fourth generation in their family to work the land.

Vanessa Simmons, cheese sommelier at Savvy Company in Ottawa and featured presenter at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival who served as one of 21 judges at Caseus 2014, writes:

“Fromagerie Nouvelle France’s signature cheese, Zacharie Cloutier, is a raw sheep’s milk cheese, named for an ancestor who came to Canada from France in 1634. This ancestor is also said to be a distant relative of Céline Dion.

“Marie-Chantal’s love for her craft and talent transfers directly to her flagship cheese. Zacharie Clouthier is a semi-cooked, firm, raw sheep’s milk cheese with a very distinct exterior basket weave design attributed to a specially selected mold that gives the cheese and apricot rind its unique appearance.  Inside is a dense, meaty, bone-colored paste that portrays a mix of complex aromas and flavors: salt, butter, hazelnut, caramel, and coconut, with a hint of ripe pineapple. A rare treat.

“Le Pionnier, a collaboration between Fromagerie Nouvelle France and Fromagerie Presbytère, is a 40-kilogram wheel made of raw sheep’s and cow’s milk coming from the two cheesemaker herds. The cheese is a great marriage of cow’s milk cheese according to Morin’s tradition, and sheep’s milk cheese, according to Houde’s tradition. Le Pionnier is a firm cheese with a bit of washed rind, a dense cheese texture and some earthiness, and is very robust. Aged for 10 to 12 months, Le Pionnier displays complex aromas of butter, brown sugar and macadamia nuts with a delicate floral note. This cheese says ‘Look at me’ and is very indicative of their personalities. They are very outspoken cheesemakers.”


COLLABORATION: Marie-Chantal Houde and Jean Morin toast the introduction of Pionnier, now also a Caseus winner.

Born on the family farm in Racine 30-something years ago, Marie-Chantal studied at l’Institut de technologie agroalimentaire in Saint-Hyacinthe, then at l’Université McGill in Montréal and l’École nationale d’industrie laitière et des biotechnologies in Poligny in the Jura cheese region of France.

Jean-Paul Houde represents the fourth generation of farmers in his family. His knowledge of the fields, grains, soil and harvesting he owes to his grandfather. His father taught him animal husbandry, to love and care for the animals and, of course, how to milk them. Jean-Paul manages 400 East Friesian sheep of which 250 are milked in rotation. The Solidar sheep farms in Chicoutimi and the sheep farm Fou du Berger in Hatley also supply milk for cheesemaking.

For Marie-Chantal, fine cheese is a marriage of art and science. Her passion for cheesemaking seems boundless. We look forward to seeing—and tasting—where her star will take her.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Read more:

Zacharie Clouitier best of the best in Québec

Where to buy Zacharie Cloutier outside Québec

Fromagerie Nouvelle France

Marie-Chantal Houde

Georgs Kolesnikovs is founder of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival and Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens.

Where can I buy Zacharie Cloutier outside Québec?

Multiple-award-winner Zacharie Cloutier.

Multiple-award-winner Zacharie Cloutier.

Here is where one can purchase award-winning Zacharie Cloutier and other Fromagerie Nouvelle France cheese outside of Québec:

Olympic Food & Cheese Mart, St. Lawrence Market, 93 Front St. East, Toronto

Delight, 3040 Dundas St. West, Toronto

International Cheese, 40 Byward Market Square, Ottawa

Chasing the Cheese, 372 Water Street, Peterborough, Ontario

Vincenzo’s,  150 Caroline St. South, Waterloo, Ontario

C’est Cheese Please! 12 Water Street, Galt City Centre, Cambridge, Ontario

A l’Epi de Blé (french bakery),  1757 Main Street, Winnipeg

Les Amis du Fromage, 175 West 2nd Avenue, Vancouver.

Fromagerie Nouvelle France cheese is distributed by Plaisirs Gourmets.

Read more: Zacharie Cloutier best of the best in Quebec


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