With entries for the prestigious 2016 World Cheese Awards (WCA) now closed, competition organisers have been able to confirm that 52 entries were received from 13 of South Africa’s cheesemakers.
Belnori Boutique Cheesery, which has entered the WCA since 2006, said that the competition provided a very good benchmark of quality.
“One needs to achieve a certain score to obtain either a gold, silver or bronze [award]. It gives one a far better idea of the quality of your cheese and it is then pretty evident how it fares against other cheeses from across the world,” said Rina Belcher of Belnori.
The 29th annual WCA is again being hosted by the Guild of Fine Food (GFF), and this year’s event is to be held in San Sebastián, Spain.
“Cheeses from over 30 different countries are expected to line up in front of 250 judges from every corner of the globe, including international buyers, retailers, writers and cheesemakers, providing a golden opportunity for small artisan producers to spotlight their cheese on a world stage,” said a statement from the WCA.
According to John Farrand, managing director of the GFF, 2 727 cheeses were judged at the 2015 WCA.
Among these were nine from SA that received either a gold, silver or bronze award. Parmalat Ladismith’s Simonsberg Gouda was the gold award winner from SA last year. Belnori’s Highvelder Classic cheese was the silver award winner.
“It is expensive to enter but it is thrilling to think one’s cheese is part of such a great and prestigious event. It is also wonderful when one is successful,” said Belcher.
She also said that SA cheeses were new to the world stage and would remain unknown unless SA cheesemakers “are brave enough to get on that stage.
“It’s not size or quantity that matters, only quality,” she added