Basque Country to host World Cheese Awards in 2016
Next year’s World Cheese Awards (WCAs) will be staged in the autonomous Basque region of northern Spain, thanks to a tie-up between British organiser the Guild of Fine Food and artisan cheese-making co-operative Artzai Gazta.
Supported by the Basque Government, the move will see the awards held outside the UK for only the third time in their 27-year history.
In 2009, the WCAs were held in the Canary Islands, following the previous year’s Supreme Champion win for the sheep’s milk Queso Arico from the Sociedad Canaria de Formento.
The 2016 awards will form part of an International Cheese Festival to be held in San Sebastián from November 16-19 next year.
The agreement to take the WCAs to the Basque Country after several years at the BBC Good Food Shows in Birmingham and London was formally signed in San Sebastián today (September 30th) by Guild MD John Farrand and Pablo Basterra, chairman of Artzai Gazta.
The 116-member artisan cheese-makers’ co-operative proposed the move in 2014 after entering its Idiazabal raw sheep’s milk cheeses into the competition for a number of years.
A spokesman for Artzai Gazta said the WCAs was not only among the most prestigious cheese competitions in the world but “shares our values and philosophy” in supporting artisan, natural and sustainable products”.
The 2016 awards and accompanying cheese festival are expected to draw thousands of local and international food professionals, foodie consumers and tourists, raising international awareness of the Basque Country’s artisan cheese-making culture and products.