The world’s largest cheese-only event, the World Cheese Awards, came to a tense finale recently at the International Convention Centre Wales, where 4,434 cheeses from 42 countries across the globe went head-to-head at the largest cheese-only event.
Rising to the top for Wales was Thelma’s Traditional Welsh Caerffili from Caws Cenarth. Awarded a Gold, and then Best Welsh Cheese sponsored by Food & Drink Wales, this crumbly cow's milk cheese with a natural mottled grey-white mould rind is best enjoyed young and fresh. Another notable win for Wales was a Gold for Hafod from PH & RM Holden. Wales had a total of 11 winners, including 2 Gold, 5 Silver and 4 Bronze awards.
The 4,434 international cheeses were sent to Wales by boat, truck, train, and plane via 19 consolidation points around the world, removing barriers to entry for many artisan cheese producers.. Each were closely examined by the panel of judges, featuring cheesemakers, cheesemongers, buyers, chefs, retailers, and writers, to deem if they were worthy of a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Super Gold award.
The crowds watched on as some of the finest palates in the global cheese community debated the best of the best. Through the judging process, 4,434 became 98 Super Golds and then 16 finalists. These cheeses went on to be re-judged by the International Super Jury, which included Cathy Strange from Whole Foods Market (USA), Patricia Michelson from La Fromagerie (UK), Denis Priimagi from Cheese Kingdom (Ukraine), and Davide Fiori from Luigi Guffanti 1876 (Italy), who put forward their preferred cheeses live on World Cheese TV, which was streamed globally, before crowning this year’s World Champion Cheese.
Lesley Griffiths, Rural Affairs Minister of the Welsh Government, Principal Global Partner of the World Cheese Awards, says:
“I am proud Wales has hosted the world’s biggest cheese awards.
“This really is the ‘World Cup of Cheese’ and a celebration of excellence in cheese making from around the globe.
“In addition to the exceptional cheesemakers, we have welcomed 250 experts from 38 different countries to judge and a Super Jury of 16 judges to select the coveted World Champion Cheese.
“It has also been great to see the strong Welsh presence at the awards who have been able to showcase their high quality products. A huge congratulations to all of the winners and everyone competing this year.”
John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of the World Cheese Awards, comments:
“What a finale. This year’s World Cheese Awards has been a huge success and Wales has been the perfect canvas for this colourful event. We’ve seen more entries than ever before and it’s great to see such a range of styles and regions represented. To crown Le Gruyère AOP surchoix as this year’s World Champion Cheese is so well deserved. The judges in the room today, our cheese experts from all over the world, were clearly blown away by the quality of the cheese and dedication shown by the cheesemakers.
“I’d like to thank our judges, sponsors and partners, particularly the Welsh Government, for all their continued support and for helping this year’s awards to be bigger and better than ever before, giving the global cheese community a day of well-earned celebration.”
This year’s World Cheese Awards was the 34th edition and has seen more entries than ever before with a record-breaking 4,434 cheeses submitted from 42 countries and 900 companies from around the globe (10.9% UK based, 89.1% international). The cheeses included increased entries from Canada, Argentina, and Slovenia, whilst India followed its first entry in 2021 with several more this year and the Ukraine saw a huge increase in entries after the World Cheese Awards was moved to Wales from its original 2022 location of Kyiv. Well-established cheesemaking nations such as France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom were well represented by both returning and new entrants, with a notable increase in Swiss entries.
All entries were judged in a single day, as 250 experts from 38 different nations studied 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 cheeses and this year’s World Champion Cheese.
Keep up to date on socials: @guildoffinefood #WorldCheeseAwards