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British cheesemakers produce over 700 diverse and delicious cheeses, from traditional territorial varieties like Cheddar, Lancashire and Stilton, to Continental-inspired cheeses like British Camembert and Brie.
Eager to provide British producers with the vital support they need right now whilst promoting cheese products to consumers, two veterans of the British cheese industry, Nigel Pooly and Sarah De Wit, have come together to launch the UK’s first Virtual Cheese Awards.
The awards, being hosted on 18th July, will focus on British products and will include over 30 classes that will be judged online, including Best Lancashire, Best Stilton, Best Organic Hard Cheese, as well as a range of Artisan classes. The results for the Category Judging and Supreme Champion will be announced in a series of live online events hosted by food and drink broadcaster Nigel Barden.
It comes at a particularly challenging time for dairy farmers and cheese producers who have been hugely impacted by the pandemic and lockdown. Helping to further support the industry, profits from the Virtual Cheese Awards will be donated to the Specialist Cheesemakers Association and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI), so they can continue to help British farmers and dairy producers.
“COVID-19 has put paid to all the big cheese shows and along with ongoing challenges cheese producers are facing to sell their produce, there is a real crisis for our much-loved industry,” Sara De Wit, co-founder of the Awards and cheese and dairy consultant, said. “I really wanted to do something positive to help support cheesemakers across Britain and celebrate their fantastic cheeses.
“We want the Awards to be a real celebration of cheese and show some behind-the-scenes of how cheese is judged and tasted, with some of UK’s most esteemed cheese judges.”
The awards has teamed up with media partner Speciality Food magazine, which has offered the Supreme Champion winner a prize worth £4,000 to help boost their business, including covering in Speciality Food and Great British Food magazines.
Holly Shackleton, editor of Speciality Food magazine, said: “The Speciality Food team is delighted to be the media partner for the inaugural Virtual Cheese Awards. Not only does this initiative support the cheese industry at a time when such fortitude is vital, but it offers a taste of what’s to come within this exciting sector. Our brilliant artisan cheesemakers have been hit hard by external forces in recent times, and we relish this opportunity to help celebrate and promote them in such an innovative way.”
Producers can now enter their cheeses online, with details of where to send samples to follow. The deadline for entries is 19 June. To find out more, visit: virtualcheeseawards.com
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