Cheese judging returns

What an eventful year 2021 has been so far. The International Cheese and Dairy Awards happened in-person this year, at a new venue in Stafford, UK. It also was the site of the Society of Dairy Technology’s autumn conference, which had about 160 people attend its autumn symposium and annual dinner.

From a personal perspective, the new venue works – worrying about one’s car being parked in a field is not conducive to effective cheese judging and wandering around stands. I happily trundled back and forth on the 841 bus, which stops right outside the showground, to and from Stafford, where regular trains run.

Many familiar faces showed up for the annual event, with varying tales from now having to pay for refrigeration for ingredients sourced from the Continent, as the shipping times have become unreliable due to Brexit and Covid-19, to new products developed despite issues with ingredients and delivery. It had the feel of an industry emerging what has been the most challenging of times, but with many interesting times to come.

Happily, the cheese judging went on. My fellow judges John and Ben were very good company and quite knowledgeable about the cheddars we tried, and we ate a lot of very good cheeses. The Supreme Champion this year was Hommage matured aged goat cheese from MAAZ Cheese of the Netherlands. Arla’s 1780 Blue Cheese was the reserve champion.

The lunch was also quite well-attended. I am not sure how they managed to feed us all in the timescale they did, but they did manage it. The trade day was followed by the Love Cheese public event, which was two days of cheeses and the things that go well with it – wines, beers, biscuits, charcutier and chutneys.

Overall, a welcome return of the biggest cheese show in the world to the UK. The tent is gone, long live Bingley Hall. In 2022, 30 June – 2 July are the dates for your diary.

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