Australia has made its mark on the world stage when competing for the very first time in the International Caseus Awards, held in Lyon, France on January 23rd and 24th, 2009. The Australian team’s participation was made possible by leading speciality cheese retailer, the Smelly Cheese Shop (Adelaide).
The team, consisting of cheese experts Nick Haddow (Tasmania), Richard Thomas (Victoria) and team manager Valerie Henbest (South Australia), were eventually ranked ninth in a battle against the world’s best.
The event was an excellent introduction to the Australian specialty cheese industry for the rest of the world and the team was duly rewarded with a confirmed place in the next event in 2011.
“We have earned our place in the world of cheese as well as in the next competition,” she said. “We have also been invited to participate in the world’s biggest cheese festival in Bra (Piemonte, Italy) later this year,” said Henbest.
The team was required to take along a small selection of Australian cheeses to the event, all of which captured the attention of international cheese professionals.
In particular, the Bruny Island Cheese Co.’s “C2” (cooked curd cheese) took the interest of leading international cheese retailer Neal’s Yard Dairy. C2 recently became the first legally recognised raw milk cheese in Australia and is scheduled for commercial release later this year.
First place in the competition went to France, followed by Japan and England respectively. Australia finished ahead of cheese powerhouses such as Italy and Spain.
There were seven different tests held over the two days which included: setting up a cheese display, blind tasting, sales pitch, cheese cutting, and a wrapping and packing skills test.
“Gaining access to the skills and experience on show at this event is an important step in the development of the local industry,” says proprietor, Peter Heaney.
The Smelly Cheese Shop has already committed to Caseus Awards 2011 with the ultimate goal of getting the Australian team amongst the medals