The New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) has confirmed judging of the  NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2021 will go ahead in Hamilton this weekend.

Planning for this year’s awards always involved a contingency in case Covid-19 prompted a lockdown in Auckland and have been enacted, shifting from Ignite Colleges in Auckland. The contingency, judging at Hamilton’s WINTEC Rotokauri campus will swing into action.

Assuming the country outside of Auckland stays at Level 2, judging will occur at WINTEC under Level 2 on Saturday February 20 for yoghurt and butter and February 21 for cheese. Judging on both days will occur with appropriate social distancing, sanitiser and other health authority recommended measures.

For the 310+ cheese, butter and yoghurts entered into this year’s awards that means samples can be sent to WINTEC Rotokauri, by midday Friday this week.

For judges and stewards coming from outside of Auckland that means, where possible, they can change their travel plans to attend the judging at WINTEC on Sunday 21 February.

Judges and stewards from Auckland can assess their availability after the health authorities have made a decision on the length of the Auckland lockdown on Wednesday or Thursday.

The Awards are owned and organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) and NZSCA Chair Neil Willman made special note of the support of Hamilton’s WINTEC. “We are very grateful for their ability to swing into action at short notice and help us support the country’s dairy industry.”

Awards entries for this year were up significantly on recent years. This year the judges will assess more 360 products over two days. That compares to 300 last year and 276 entries in 2019.

Jason Tarrant will lead the judging team. Tarrant is the first New Zealander to the head judging for the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards following the eight-year reign of Australian, Russell Smith. Last year another Australian, Scott Bolch was announced as Smith’s successor but the Covid travel ban means Bolch is unavailable.

NZSCA Chair Neil Willman said medal winners will be named on March 16 with the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Gala Dinner at Sky City in Hamilton on Wednesday 5 May 2021.

The NZ Champions of Cheese 2021 Trophies are:

  • Countdown Champion of Champions (Commercial)
  • New World Champion of Champions (Mid-sized)
  • Puhoi Valley Champion of Champions (Boutique)
  • MilkTestNZ Champion Cheesemaker
  • Fonterra Co-operative Group Champion Original Cheese
  • ECOLAB Champion Blue Cheese
  • New Zealand Food Safety Champion New Cheese
  • CHR Hansen Champion Soft White Rind Cheese
  • Kiwi Labels Champion Greek/Cypriot Cheese
  • Cheeselinks Champion Fresh Italian Style Cheese
  • IFF/Danisco Champion Fresh Unripened Cheese
  • AsureQuality Champion Dutch Style Cheese
  • Champion European Style Cheese
  • Sabato Champion Farmhouse Cheese
  • Thermaflo Champion Washed Rind
  • Big Chill Distribution Champion Flavoured Cheese
  • Tetra Pak Champion Retail Cheddar Cheese
  • Champion Bulk Cheddar Cheese
  • Good George Brewing Champion Goat Cheese
  • dish magazine Champion Sheep Cheese
  • New Zealand Champion Export Cheese

Special Awards

  • Innovative Packaging Aspiring Cheesemaker
  • Curds & Whey Champion Homecrafted Cheesemaker and Cheese
  • New World Cheese Lovers’ Choice
  • Ignite Colleges Chef’s Choice
  • C‘est Cheese Champion Butter
  • Countdown Champion Yoghurt

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