Spanish goats’ cheese crowned World Champion Cheese
A soft goats’ cheese made by Andalusian cheesemaker, Quesos y Besos, was named World Champion Cheese in Oviedo, Spain on Wednesday 3 November. Quesos y Besos’ Olavidia rose to the top as the best cheeses on the planet went head-to-head at the World Cheese Awards, which was held at Palacio de Exposiciones y Congresos as part of the Asturias Paraíso Natural International Cheese Festival 2021.
Produced by a family-run business established in 2017, Olavidia has brought international acclaim to Silvia Peláezand and her team of just six people. Matured with Penicillium Candidum and a layer of olive stone ash running through its middle, the soft goats’ cheese was championed in the final judging stage by Jason Hinds from Neal’s Yard Dairy in the UK, who said “this cheese charmed me and stole my heart.” He added, “This is unlike anything I’ve seen before. Its appearance is so original and it didn’t let me down. It’s unctuous, seductive, pillowy, warm and comforting.”
In a close run final, second place was awarded to an Epoisses Berthaut Perrière, made by Fromagerie Berthaut in France and entered by Savencia Fromage & Dairy, while third place was taken by Eminence Grise – Tomme Chèvre Grise au Bleu, produced by Van der Heiden Kaas in the Netherlands. The Top 16 also included cheeses from Austria, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the UK.
John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of the World Cheese Awards, commented: “As the World Cheese Awards was founded over three decades ago to showcase the work of small artisan cheesemakers, it gives me immense pleasure to see a tiny family-run cheesemaking business taking top honours once again. It’s an incredible feat to stand out in a field of over 4,000 cheeses from every corner of the world, but Quesos y Besos’ Olavidia clearly had everything; delivering an exceptional appearance, aroma, texture and flavour, along with bags of originality. I’d also like to thank our judges and our partners, the Asturias Paraíso Natural International Cheese Festival, for helping us to stage the World Cheese Awards once again, giving the global cheese community a day of well-earned celebration following a period of such challenges, uncertainty, resilience and innovation.”
Silvia Peláez, head cheesemaker at Quesos y Besos, added: “We’ve been making cheese for less than 5 years, so we never imagined we could win the world’s biggest prize in cheese so soon. It was wonderful to witness the judging in person and be there for the announcement, but it’s all still sinking in and will take a long time to digest! Everything we do is inspired by our love for our family, including the name of the business itself, Quesos y Besos (Cheese and Kisses), so this is such a special moment for us. We’ve made it our mission to encapsulate the essence of our family in all of our cheeses, so to have such recognition from the World Cheese Awards judges is an incredible achievement and truly overwhelming.”
The 33rd edition of the World Cheese Awards was bigger and more international than ever before, featuring over 4,000 entries for the first time. The competing cheeses represented 45 different countries, including recent additions such as India, Japan and Colombia, as well as established cheesemaking nations such as France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
All entries were judged in a single day, as 250 experts from 38 different countries considered their appearance, texture, aroma and flavour. Bronze, Silver, Gold and Super Gold accolades were awarded during the morning session, before the Super Golds were reassessed to find this year’s Top 16. The International Super Jury, featuring the great and good of the global cheese community, debated the best cheeses on the planet in front of a live audience, before crowning this year’s World Champion Cheese.