For the cheese lover in your life at Christmas

15181409_1334820033237228_9209551556281257544_nCheese lovers in your life will appreciate a holiday gift of tickets to the 2017 Great Canadian Cheese Festival, the biggest artisan cheese show in North America.

We will send you a personalized gift certificate (upon receipt of your ticket order) for the ticket recipient. The certificate will be a PDF that you can forward by e-mail or print for giving in person.

The seventh annual Festival takes place June 3-4, 2017, at Picton Fairgrounds, in must-visit Prince Edward County, Bay of Quinte Region, near Belleville, Ontario.

Holiday tickets are available for the Saturday portion of the festival at $50 plus HST each.

Admission includes access to more than 130 exhibitors and vendors offering more than 500 foods and beverages, an insulated Festival tote bag for your purchases, a Festival souvenir glass for sampling wine, beer and cider (19+), Cheese Seminars (rush seating), Dairy Farm, Food Court, and live music. Ample FREE parking.

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

For more information, email info@cheesefestival.ca or telephone 1-866-865-2628 toll-free.

The website CheeseFestival.ca will be updated in January when regular tickets go on sale.

Chef Lili Sullivan: Grilled-cheese champion at #TGCCF

All hail Chef Lili Sullivan of Gazebo Restaurant at Waupoos Estate Winery!

All hail Chef Lili Sullivan of Gazebo Restaurant at Waupoos Estate Winery!

Chef Lili Sullivan showed three chefs of the male persuasion how its done in the County when she easily defeated them in a grilled-cheese showdown at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

Chef Sullivan, who runs Gazebo Restaurant at Waupoos Estates Winery in Prince Edward County, grilled 250 cheese sandwiches in 34 minutes flatwhile the men were barely halfway. Total focus and fast hands not afraid of heat were her secret weapons.

The competition—to see which of the four chefs could grill 250 cheese sandwiches the quickest—was the method Cheese Festival organizers concocted to feed the first 1,000 ticket holders admitted on Sunday, June 7, in a fifth-anniversary celebration called Grilled Cheese Chowdown.

Total focus and fast hands not afraid of heat.

Total focus and fast hands not afraid of heat. Chef photos and graphic by Jane Churchill.

Chef Sullivan grilled her sammies with Black River Cheese cheddar, Stonemill Bakehouse Prince Edward County Rye and Stirling Creamery unsalted butter.

Her prize? A cheque for $1,000 paid on her behalf by the Cheese Festival to the charity of her choice, Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.

Click here for a Grilled Cheese Chowdown photo album.

While grilled cheese does not make an appearance on the menu at Gazebo Restaurant in Waupoos, Chef Sullivan certainly brought her A-game to the competition.

After studying culinary management at George Brown College, Sullivan went on to Toronto’s Auberge du Pommier, later taking the lead as head chef at Chapeau Bistro and The Rebel House. As an advocate of the slow food movement in Ontario, she spent nine years on the board of directors of Organic Advocates’ Feast of Fields. The organization, which was co-founded by Chef Jamie Kennedy, brings chefs and farmers together to raise awareness of organic eating and its benefits to the environment and to humans. As the movement took hold in bucolic Prince Edward County, the wine region’s magnetism was evident.

A long-time supporter of Countylicious, Sullivan’s cooking draws crowds during the County’s twice annual prix-fixe celebration of local food. Countylicious’ goal is to introduce diners to the bounty of local food that’s still available during the “shoulder seasons” of fall and spring, when most farmer’s markets have wound down for the year or have yet to open up.

Gazebo Restaurant at Waupoos Estates Winery in Prince Edward County.

Gazebo Restaurant at Waupoos Estates Winery in Prince Edward County.

“Locally grown is not a trend, but a lifestyle,” quips Sullivan. A truly seasonal eater, her family relocated from Europe in the 1960s, bringing their culinary sensibilities with them. “We only ate strawberries when they were in season. It’s just the way I was raised,” said Sullivan, in a Bay of Quinte Tourism Local Food episode last year. The Grilled Cheese Chowdown was the perfect venue for Sullivan to showcase local tastes, with all cheese provided by the Cheddar & Ale Trail producers of Hastings and Prince Edward counties.

The next Great Canadian Cheese Festival—the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada—takes place Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5, 2016, in Picton, Ontario, at the Fairgrounds. For complete information, visit CheeseFestival.ca.

—Laura Voskamp

By night, Laura Voskamp is a cheese lover and freelance writer. By day, she’s Communications Coordinator for Bay of Quinte Tourism and Bay of Quinte Living.

Québec dominates Canadian Cheese Grand Prix

fromagerie-fritz-kaiser

Fritz Kaiser, a pioneer in artisan cheesemaking in Québec, was named champion in three categories at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix.

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.

Fromage-AmourTradition_4coul-e1419193019649Fromagerie 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:

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:

Jan Schalkwijk of Sylvan Star Cheese was set to sweep all gouda categories until . . .

Jan Schalkwijk of Sylvan Star Cheese was set to sweep all Gouda categories until . . .

. . . when along came Adam of Mountainoak Cheese to capture the Extra Old Gouda category.

. . . along came Adam van Bergeijk of Mountainoak Cheese to capture the Extra Old Gouda category.

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:

It doesn't get more Canadian than this: Punjabi immigrants, Amarjit Singh and his wife,  make Mexican-style mozzarella named Oaxacxa at their Ontario creamery (Local Dairy Products) and become Canadian Grand Prix champions.

It doesn’t get more Canadian than this: Punjabi immigrants, Amarjit Singh and his wife, make Mexican-style mozzarella named Oaxacxa at their Ontario creamery (Local Dairy Products) and become Canadian Grand Prix champions.

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.

The Farm House Natural Cheeses of Agassiz, British Columbia, in quite possibly the prettiest setting for a chesse dairy in Canada, was named Grand Prix champion in tw0 categories.

Farm House Natural Cheeses, in quite possibly the prettiest setting for a cheese dairy in Canada in Agassiz, British Columbia, was named Grand Prix champion in two categories.

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 CheeseFestival.ca 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 CheeseLover.ca is founder and director of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival

Searching for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival WEST

While we’re on our B.C. Cheese Tour, we’re on the look-out for a venue for the western version of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival that we’d love to produce in the fall of 2015. Here is the short list of five possible locations, three in Vancouver and two less than one hour from Vancouver. Click on any image for a larger view.

px_bc_ubc_botanical_garden

UBC Botanical Garden in Vancouver.

px_bc_ubc-farm

UBC Farm in Vancouver.

px_bc_vandusen

VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver.

px_bc__GoldenEarsCheesecrafters

Golden Ears Cheesecrafters in Maple Ridge in an adjacent field.

px_bc_heritage_park

Heritage Park in Chilliwack.

One other possibility would be to close off a street in downtown Vancouver and organize the cheese festival as a street festival.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival as a street festival in Vancouver?

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival as a street festival in Vancouver?

There is no change in plans to continue the original Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Prince Edward County, Bay of Quinte Region. Dates for 2014 are June 7-8.

Québec’s best cheeses featured at Wine/Dine at The Grange

CF13 Grange Gagnon Menu

François Gagnon, a Top Chef Canada contestant and owner of a trendy sandwich shop and flourishing catering business in Montréal, is returning to cook up a cheese-themed feast at the upcoming Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

Chef Gagnon has created a mouth-watering five-course menu featuring the best in Québec cheeses paired with exceptional wines made by Caroline Granger at The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery on Saturday evening, June 1. Starting with smoked duck tartare and concluding with salted chocolate caramel for the road, the menu is posted above. Click on it for an enlarged view.

Space is limited so don’t delay in ordering tickets online by clicking here. The costs is $125 per person + HST + gratuity for food and wine. The dinner starts at seven o’clock, Saturday, June 1.

The eight outstanding cheesemakers taking part are all under the Plaisirs Gourmets banner.

Top Chef Canada contestant François Gagnon, a seasoned chef who has worked in the best restaurants in Quebec, France and Vancouver, owns Lunch Insolite, a trendy sandwich shop and flourishing catering business in Montréal.

Until a year ago, when he was featured in the Cooks & Curds Gala at last year’s Cheese Festival, François was a private chef for Ædifica, a prestigious architectural firm in Montreal, where the design culture stimulated his use of color, texture, technique and flavours to produce visually and conceptually inspiring meals daily.

Just before joining Ædifica in 2011, Chef Gagnon took part in the first season of Top Chef Canada on the Food Network, finishing in the top five.

At The Grange of Prince Edward, the title “president and CEO” doesn’t do justice to Caroline Granger’s job description. Caroline began with planting and managing 10 acres of vineyards all on her own. From there she oversaw the restoration of the historical barn that now houses the tasting room and cellar, as well as the construction of a brand new wine making facility. In those same years she oversaw the planting and management of a crew for another 50 acres.

Caroline now over sees, winemaking, viticulture, tasting room, and sales herself. Perhaps “chief, cook, and bottle washer” would be a more apt title some days, but Caroline wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The Grange of Prince Edward is a family-run winery,” she explains. “We produce only 100% estate grown and made wines because we want our wines to reflect our region and our distinct style. We grow seven varietals and produce three distinct lines of wine to suit our diverse clientele. We believe in eating and drinking locally and we believe in value—and we hope these beliefs can be passed on to you.”

The Grange of Prince Edward is located at ‪990 Closson Road‬, Hillier, Prince Edward County. Click here for a map.

Wine & Dine with Francois Gagnon at The Grange is the final event to be announced in the Festival’s new Saturday evening offerings for visitors seeking a memorable evening of food and drink—and artisan cheese, of course!

Quality Cheese Ricotta wins Canadian Cheese Grand Prix

Ricotta---Grand-Champion_sm

What shockeroo!

For the first time in the eight renditions of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, a fresh cheese was named Grand Champion, the first time an Ontario cheese was named the best cheese in Canada.

The history-making cheese is Ricotta made by Quality Cheese of Vaughan, Ontario.

A jury of top Canadian food industry experts selected it from 19 impressive category winners in the Grand Prix.

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 winners were announced tonight during a gala at the Hyatt Regency in Montreal.

“The Ricotta’s refined and balanced taste really stood out during the competition “, says Chef Danny St. Pierre, Canadian Cheese Grand Prix jury member. “This confirms that a fresh cheese can have as much depth as an aged cheese”.

Quality Cheese’s Ricotta is lauded for its creamy texture and milky aroma. Quality Cheese manufactures, distributes and retails Italian speciality cheeses and boasts a team representing four generations of cheesemaking.

Their products are so popular that fans flock to their Vaughan, Ontario, location to buy the cheese fresh.

The Grand Champion and 19 category winners were selected from a record 225 cheese entries submitted by cheesemakers from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia. The submissions were then narrowed down to 58 finalists by the jury in February.

“We are seeing an impressive variety of Canadian cheeses being developed to satisfy various culinary tastes and trends”, says Mr. St. Pierre. “It’s fascinating to see all the things we can do with these cheeses, be it topping a cracker with an aged Cheddar or using a fresh cheese to make a wild blueberry cheesecake. So take out your cooking aprons and discover the winners of the 8th Canadian Cheese Grand Prix!”

Indeed, Canada’s vibrant and unique cheesemaking craft has evolved to the point that new types of cheese are continually being added to the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. This year, two new categories were introduced: “Gouda’’ and “Fresh Cheese with Grilling Properties.”

Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Jury members tasted, touched and smelled each cheese, evaluating them for appearance, flavour, colour, texture and body, and salt content before determining the following winners.

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.

Here are the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix category winners. Click on any image for a larger view.

Grizzly-Gouda_smFARMHOUSE CHEESE

Bleu-d'Elizabeth_smORGANIC CHEESE

Ricotta_smFRESH CHEESE

Queso-Fresco-Cheese_smFRESH CHEESE WITH GRILLING PROPERTIES

Le-Noble_smSOFT CHEESE WITH BLOOMY RIND

Tre-Stelle-Feta_smSEMI-SOFT CHEESE

Le-Mamirolle_smWASHED OR MIXED RIND CHEESE (SOFT, SEMI-SOFT AND FIRM)

Gunn's-Hill-Five-Brothers_smFIRM CHEESE

Grizzly-Gouda_smGOUDA

Bleu-d'Elizabeth_smSWISS-TYPE CHEESE

Tre-Stelle-Mozzarella-Cheese_smMOZZARELLA (BALL, BRICK OR CYLINDER)

  • Tre Stelle Mozzarella Cheese ~ Arla Foods, Ontario

Bleu-d'Elizabeth_smBLUE CHEESE (VARIOUS RINDS, WITH OR WITHOUT VEINING)

Applewood-Smoked-Cheddar_smFLAVOURED CHEESE WITH ADDED NON-PARTICULATE FLAVOURINGS

Raclette-de-Comton-au-Poivre_smFLAVOURED CHEESE WITH ADDED PARTICULATE SOLIDS AND FLAVOURINGS

L'Ancetre-Organic-Mild-Chedda_smrMILD CHEDDAR (AGED 3 MONTHS)

Maple-Dale-Medium-Cheddar_smMEDIUM CHEDDAR (AGED 4 TO 9 MONTHS)*

Fromagerie-Perron-1-Year-Aged-Cheddar-sm OLD CHEDDAR (AGED FROM 9 MONTHS TO A YEAR)

Avonlea-Clothbound-Cheddar_smAGED CHEDDAR (MORE THAN 1 YEAR UP TO 3 YEARS)

  • Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar ~ Cows Creamery, Prince Edward Island
 Black-River-5-Year-Aged-Cheddar_smAGED CHEDDAR (MORE THAN 3 YEARS)

Photos courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Canada.