The recent New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards saw the country’s best cheeses take home accolades.
Blue cheese has made a triumphant return in the awards, taking out a supreme title for the first time in five years and the coveted people’s choice award.
Puhoi Valley Kawau Blue by Puhoi Valley Cheese won the highly sought-after Countdown Champion of Champions Cheese Award for large cheese producers, with Kapiti Kahurangi from Fonterra Brands NZ winning the New World Champion Favourite Cheese Award by public vote.
Twenty three category winners were announced, following a two-day competition where over 420 entries were examined by international and local cheese experts.
Puhoi Kawau Blue is the result of over 30 years’ experience perfecting blues by Puhoi’s head cheesemaker Franck Beaurain. Whilst Puhoi Kawau Blue is sold to New Zealand restaurants through food service, the public can enjoy this exact cheese under its retail name – Puhoi Valley Gorgonzola Style Blue.
Dutch-style cheese still features strongly in the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards with Mercer Cheese Extra Mature Gouda winning the Puhoi Valley Champion Artisan Cheese Award for smaller producers.
Dutch-influence also saw Jeanne van Kuyk from Aroha Organic Goat Cheese win the Milk Test NZ Champion Cheesemaker Award. Jeanne is the first female artisan cheesemaker in awards history to take out the title. Read our interview with Kuyk in the current (May) issue of MiNDFOOD.
Aroha Organic Goat also collected the 180 degrees Champion Goat Cheese Award for its Aroha Raw Milk Jubilee.
Not only did judges score this cheese a perfect 100 score, the only gold medals (3) awarded in this category were given to Aroha Organic Goat Cheese.
The golden moments continued for goat cheese with Puhoi Valley Fresh Goat by Puhoi Valley Cheese the first goat cheese in awards history to win the Renco New Zealand Champion Export Cheese Award. Puhoi started exporting this cheese to Australia late last year, and also sell it locally in supermarkets.
Puhoi Valley Cheese continued their stellar run in this year’s awards with Puhoi Valley Kawau Blue winning the Ecolab Champion Blue Cheese Award and Puhoi Valley Cellar Range Washed Rind winning the Thermoflo Champion Washed Rind Cheese Award.
Another notable winner was Hawkes Bay’s Origin Earth. The company won the Kiwi Labels Champion Feta Cheese Award for its Origin Earth Feta and the Cheeselinks Champion Flavoured Cheese Award for its Smoked Sheep Cheese.
Soft white rind varieties were also singled out by the judging panel for special praise, and described as “luscious and oozing,” typifying the best examples of this category.
The New Zealand public continued to show their sophisticated palate for blue with Kapiti Kahurangi from Fonterra Brands NZ taking out the New World Champion Favourite Cheese Award for the second year running. This is the fifth consecutive year a Kapiti blue cheese has won the public vote.