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On Saturday 18th July, a number of cheese industry icons joined forces to judge the inaugural Virtual Cheese Awards in front of an online audience of over 3,000 cheese lovers.
Founded following the outbreak of Covid-19, with an aim of helping to support and promote the British cheese industry while it was facing major difficulties as a result of the pandemic, the Virtual Cheese Awards demonstrated an innovative new format for cheese judging and awards. It was held entirely online, and allowed the general public to witness the process of cheese judging for themselves.
The not-for-profit awards benefited not only the award-winners, but also raised money for the Specialist Cheesemakers Association Bursary.
Over 300 cheeses across seven categories had been whittled down to just 30, and the final winner of the Best of British accolade was named as Renegade Monk, made by Feltham’s Farm in Somerset.
Sarah de Wit, founder of the Virtual Cheese awards and cheese and dairy consultant, said, “The Virtual Cheese Awards were a real labour of love and we learnt a lot on the way. I’m so proud that my VCA Team, Kerry Love, Vickie Rogerson, Jeremy Bowen, Kara Bowen and of course Nigel Pooley (plus our awesome sponsors) delivered such a brilliant event that helped celebrate some truly inspiring British producers - our aim was always to make British Cheese ‘the hero’ of the awards.
“I remain passionate about evolving the way cheese awards are judged by making it more inclusive and transparent. We’ve had so much positive feedback from producers about the live judging, and indeed it was a leap of faith but it worked!!
“In light of the incredible feedback we have achieved from sponsors, cheesemakers, and ‘foodies’ we are in the process of setting up a 2021 Virtual Cheese Awards. In our second year, we will continue to highlight great British cheese and continue to develop the joy of virtual judging – watch this space as we intend to celebrate and maximise the all that we achieved in 2020.”
For more information about the current status of the British cheese industry - from the challenges faced to success stories - download The Future of Cheese report for free here.
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