Lots of reasons to say cheese

Tuesday 8 March 2011, 7:33AM

An outstanding camembert fought off fierce competition to take out the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) sponsored Champion New Cheese Award at the Cuisine NZ Champions of Cheese Awards.

Fonterra’s Kapiti Traditional Camembert pipped 17 other entries to receive the accolade at last week’s gala event in Auckland.

Working with the feeling, touch, look and smell of the cheese Kapiti’s cheesemaker Jean-Luc Danquigny makes this limited edition French-style camembert by hand. It was first produced before Christmas last year and will be re-launched in time for this Easter.

MAF Deputy Director General Standards Carol Barnao, who presented the award, says New Zealand cheese is among the best in the world and our producers have a long and proud tradition of cheese making.

“However, we realise that in an increasingly competitive international market place it's important to continually strive to come up with better or new products. Our continued support of this event is recognition of our ongoing backing of the New Zealand cheese industry.”

An example of the way MAF is currently working with industry is the work that's being done to get approval for the first Food Safety Programme for the production of raw milk cheese, Carol says.

“For the past year we have been working closely with four cheesemakers, who are interested in making raw milk cheeses. I’m sure both cheese makers and lovers are pleased to hear that we have received the first Food Safety Programme (FSP) from one of these producers and work is progressing well on getting it approved.”

More than 450 cheeses were entered in the 2011 Cuisine NZ Champions of Cheese Awards. The hundreds of cheeses were judged in 20 categories all honouring the excellence in the diverse range of cheese New Zealand now produces. The winners were evenly spread amongst small artisan and larger producers.