Bath Blue takes the highest honour in world cheese
The biggest prize in international speciality cheese has come back to Britain after a soft blue cheese from the west of England collected the World Champion trophy at the 2014 World Cheese Awards.
Bath Blue from Bath Soft Cheese triumphed over nearly 2,600 cheeses from 33 countries to take the top prize at the awards, staged today (November 14) at the BBC Good Food Show London.
The winner was the last cheese to be tasted by the Supreme Panel of 16 judges, narrowly beating Italy’s Caseificio Il Fiorino and Croatian producer Sirana Gligora into joint second place. Until the final cheese was tasted, Caseificio Il Fiorino’s Pecorino Riserva del Fondatore and Sirana Gligora’s Dinarski Sir were neck and neck to take the top title.
Over 250 cheese experts from 26 nations travelled to London Olympia to judge in the space of a single morning.
The final judging panel of top-name global experts – including Cathy Strange of Whole Foods Market in the US, Suzy O’Regan of Woolworths Foods in South Africa, Ros Windsor of London’s Paxton & Whitfield and Kris Lloyd of Australian artisan cheese-maker Woodside Cheese Wrights – then tasted a shortlist of 16 cheeses to select the 2014 World Champion.
Suzanne O’Regan described Bath Blue as “the most incredible cheese”, while Louis Aird of Canadian cheese-maker Saputo said: “Sometimes blue cheese can have a metallic flavour, and if it doesn’t it can overloaded with salt, but this was perfectly balanced – a classic blue, flavours that develop slowly in your mouth.”
The World Cheese Awards, now in its 26th year, returned to London for 2014 after a three-year run at the BBC Good Food Show at Birmingham’s NEC.
This year’s event drew entries from 33 countries including New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil.
At a lunch for the international judging contingent, the annual trophy for Exceptional Contribution to Cheese was presented to Roland Barthélemy, a French master cheesemonger who has played a pivotal role in the promotion and preservation of raw milk, artisan cheeses in France and beyond.
Presenting the trophy, Guild of Fine Food chairman Bob Farrand said: “Roland Barthélemy has dedicated his working life to cheese and his endeavours have secured recognition at the highest levels for the profession of the Fromager.
“He has spent years striving to elevate his craft to the same level as top chefs, has judged all over the world and has continued to champion at every opportunity the cause of raw milk cheese.”