Tag Archives: Dairy Farmers of Canada

Canadian Cheese Grand Prix -Behind the Scenes as a Judge


The Jury for the 2013 Cheese Grand Prix. Photo courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

There we are, all eight soft-lit happy cheese eaters.  I thought I would introduce you to my co-jury members from our Grand Prix judging last weekend and mention how proud I was to be a part of this team!

Left to right:  Moi, Chef Michael Howell, Allison Spurrell (owner Les Amies du Fromage in BC), Gurth Pretty (Cheese Buyer for Loblaw), Chef Danny St. Pierre, Reg Hendrickson(with Dairy Farmers of Canada), Ian Picard (VP of Fromagerie Hamel in Montreal) and Jury Chairman Phil Belanger who has been with the competition since its beginning in 1998.

Cheese Grand Prix 3

Can you guess what cheese I am about to taste? Your guess is as good as mine!

For a behind the scenes report on tasting 225 cheeses in 48 hours check out today’s Spread column.  And here are some more photos of the event.


Photo Courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Here we are evaluating the soft bloomy rinds and Allison is trying to convince me it is normal protocol to pick up the wheel and take a bite from the edge (hazing for the newbie).  No, not really, but it it was tempting.

Judging the firm washed-rinds.  Photos courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Judging the firm washed-rinds. Photos courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

All of the Nominees have been announced and you can find the list here 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Finalists.


Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Travel and Food, Uncategorized

Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Judging Weekend

My uniform for the weekend.

My uniform for the weekend.

Hello from Montreal.  If you have seen any of my tweets from the last day or so you will know that I have had the honour of being on the jury for the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix.  The event takes place every two years and is organized by The Dairy Farmers of Canada (so it is all cow’s milk cheese).  Cheesemakers across Canada can enter.

Sue poses with Washed Rinds

Here I am (kind of blurry) standing in front of two (of 4 total) tables which were being prepared for the Washed Rind category.  See how goofy happy I look!  You would not believe how many lovely cheeses we were surrounded by.  And smelled of by the end of the afternoon.

Washed Rinds set up

This is a bit of a better view.  Recognize anything?  We taste everything blind so have no idea which cheese has won until the results are tallied up.

Tasting Washed Rinds

Judges Allison Spurrell of Les Amies de Fromage in Vancouver, Chef Danny St Pierre (QC) and Chef Michael Howl (Nova Scotia).

Above are some of my co-jury members very seriously tasting cheese.  We all want to respect the work the cheese makers have put in so we do out best to be objective and analytical—as well as look for that “WOW” factor (amongst over 200 cheeses!).

Today we judged from 9 until about 4:30 and covered two cheddar categories (defined by age), washed rinds, fresh cheeses, semi-soft cheese and blue.

Blue Cheese

In a funny way though blue would seem the most challenging category (for palate fatigue) young cheddars are also tough–they are mild and subtle and you must really concentrate to not miss flavour and nuance when tasting many at a time.

I will write no more as we’ll all be going out to dinner soon (what? we had a 2 hour break after 7 hours of cheese eating, time to eat.)  Tomorrow we finish choosing the category champions and ultimately decide on the Grand Prix winner.

Will write more about the experience hopefully for Swallow and perhaps even for the Globe.

Meanwhile, I just sit here and think, “How cool is this!”   (But also, “no I don’t want yogurt for breakfast or no cream in my tea please.”)


Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Travel and Food, Uncategorized

Curds and Eh: Episode 7 How to Roll Cheese and Kick Butt at Whistler

Check out lots of photos at canadiancheeserolling.ca

This post is part of a guest blog series by Kelsie Parsons.   See the recent Globe and Mail piece about his travels.

August 18th, 2012 was a super hot day on the slopes in Whistler, BC but that didn’t stop the 137 competitors and over 13,000 attendees of the Canadian Cheese Rolling Competition.

This photo of Kelsie has not been retouched or manipulated in any way.

This was the 5th annual competition and it coincided with Crankworx – a downhill mountain biking festival that attracts fearless athletes from around the world.

Crankworx 2012, photo by Blake Jorgenson (umm, where’s the cheese?)

The Canadian Cheese Rolling Competition is sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada and promotes cheese made from 100% Canadian milk.

You need a fast shutter speed not to blur the action in this photo.

What happens at a cheese rolling competition? Basically, cheese is rolled down a hill and the first person to the bottom wins. The winner qualifies for the finals and the grand champion heads home with an 11lb wheel of Cracked Pepper Verdelait cheese and a season’s ski pass to Whistler Blackcomb.

Staying strong through the pain.

After 7 qualifying rounds, 10 men lined up at the top of the hill. The horn blew and people flipped and tripped and stumbled down the hill but Tyler Belan stayed vertical and won the race with a time of 5.03s beating his competitors (including last year’s champ) by only a fraction of a second.

Tyler Belan celebrates.  CONGRATS TYLER!

I was excited to learn that Tyler is actually a cashier supervisor at the Highland Rd. Sobeys in Kitchener, Ontario which is only 5 minutes from the Sobeys where I’m a cheesemonger. If you’re in the Kitchener-Waterloo area stop in to say hi to Tyler, the cheese rolling champ, and maybe he’ll even have a bit of his 11lb cheese left to share. Tyler explained that his technique was to not focus on the cheese but to just run as fast as possible. He actually ran so fast that he beat the cheese to the bottom of the hill! Way to go Tyler for bringing home the gold (or cheese in this case)!

A bachelorette at Cheese Rolling!  I need to get remarried tout de suite. S.R.

And then there is this pic also from The Canadian Cheese Rolling site’s gallery…..

Am assuming this is the costume component and that that is Kelsie in the mask. S.R.

The woman’s finals saw Joslyn Kent of Australia take the prize with a time of 7.08s. For the costume contest, a team from Washington won a $500 gift certificate to local restaurants for their costumes of a cow, farmer, wheel of cheese and milk bucket featuring the 100% Canadian milk logo. One of the other attractions was a busy farmers market featuring cheesemakers from BC to PEI. Festival goers sampled cheese and brought home their favourites.

Spectators keeping a safe distance from hurtling cheese (and people)

Although I didn’t compete (the above action photos of Kelsie were just promo shots and did not involve a stunt double whatsoever S.R.) , witnessing the Canadian Cheese Rolling Competition was one of my most memorable days this summer.

Salt Spring Island’s Romelia, Juliette and Blue Juliette.

What’s next for this cheesy adventurer? A trip to Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island and then I’ll be ending my 3.5 month road trip and taking the long drive home. Not to worry, I’ve got enough cheese stories to keep me writing for a long time.

For Curds and Eh 1 (the itinerary), click hereCurds and Eh 2 (Quebec), Click Here, Curds and Eh 3 (Quebec) , click here, Curds and Eh 4 (St.John’s), Curds and Eh 5 (Thunder Oak Gouda)and Curds and Eh 6 (Upcoming Cheese Festivals).


Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Curds and Eh, Travel and Food, Uncategorized

Curds and Eh, Episode 6: Cheese Rolling and 3000 tonnes of curd

These people are chasing wheels of cheese down the Whistler slopes

This post is part of a guest blog series by Kelsie Parsons.   See the recent Globe and Mail piece about his travels.

Summer is the time for festivals. I’m not talking Lollapalooza and Osheaga here. I’m talking cheese festivals such as The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, Victoriaville Fine Cheese Festival, Festival des Fromages Artisanaux Quebecois and American Cheese Society’s Cheese Rally in Raleigh.

Although we’re half-way through August the festival season isn’t over yet. Here are a few cheesy festivals to keep you busy.

St. Albert, Festival of Curd

Festival de la Curd – St. Albert

St. Albert Cheddar Co-op makes some of the best cheddar curds in Canada. Fortunately for us they created a festival to celebrate squeaky cheddar curds. The annual festival began in 1994 when St. Albert Cheddar celebrated its 100th anniversary. This year’s festivities include a giant corn maze, an antique tractor show, beach volleyball, a magician, plenty of live music, wine and surprise, surprise…CURDS!!! Over the course of the 5-day festival, St. Albert typically gives away 3 tons of cheddar curds for free. 3 TONS of curds!!! That could make a lot of poutine!

I have never been to the curd festival but I’d love to go sometime! If you’ve been (or are going) I’d love to hear all about it!

Festival de la Curd takes place August 15-19 in St. Albert, Ontario. For more info visit the Festival de la Curd website. .

More cheese rolling–view from the bottom of the hill!  Helmets! Knee pads! This is intense.

The Canadian Cheese Rolling Competition

Where will you be on Saturday August 18th from noon-4pm? I’m planning on attending the Canadian Cheese Rolling Competition in Whistler, BC and I’m super excited to see it! As you may know, I’m spending my summer visiting cheesemakers in every province and will be writing a book about Canadian cheese. I’ve actually planned my whole trip so that I end up in British Columbia for this competition!

This guy for Pope. Just a thought (by Sue).

The Canadian Cheese Rolling Competition is based on the legendary cheese rolling competition in Gloucestershire, England but with a Canuck twist. All the cheese at the festival (and there’ll be a lot) is made from 100% Canadian milk.

Cheese rolling is pretty straight forward. Basically, cheese is rolled down a hill and people attempt to catch it. The lucky winners get to keep an 11-pound wheel of cheese and they receive two ski season passes to Whistler Blackcomb. Last year’s festival saw over 165 participants and 12,000 spectators! There’s more than just cheese rolling and running though. The festival also includes a costume contest, cheese seminars and a market featuring cheesemakers from Courtenay, BC to Charlottetown, PEI.

This event is sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Canada and aims to bring attention to great cheeses made from 100% Canadian milk. As someone who is eating different Canadian cheese every day I have to say there’s a lot of great cheese made here!

UPDATE FROM KELSIE:  The winner of the 2012 cheese rolling is Tyler Belan, front end manager at Highland Sobeys in Kichener, ON.  Congrats Tyler!

Cheese Rolling winner

For an up-to-date countdown until the festival  check out canadiancheeserolling.ca

Come out and taste the best grilled cheese of 2012.

The Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-Off

The start of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto is always a bittersweet time. Around this time you’ll hear people exclaim, “The CNE is opening! I can’t believe summer’s almost over!” But that sentiment doesn’t last long as they indulge in tasty treats and then attempt to hold them down while on dizzying rides.

One of the hot food events at the CNE will be The Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-Off held in the All You Need Is Cheese booth. At this event top chefs from around Canada compete to create the “gratest” grilled cheese sandwich.

In 2010, Michael Howell (chef and owner of The Tempest in Nova Scotia) won for his Panini Toscano which featured Canadian Havarti, prosciuto, baby arugula, fresh figs, lemon aioli, and balsamic vineagar. Whoa! I’ll be cooking this up when I return home in September.

Michael will be defending his title against three top chefs from across Canada: Jason Bangerter, executive chef at O&B Luma and Canteen restaurants in Toronto; Ned Bell, executive chef at the Yew Restaurant at The Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver; and Liana Robberecht, executive chef at the Calgary Petroleum Club in Calgary. Each chef has created two recipes featuring cheeses made from 100% Canadian milk and the winning chef will walk away with the 2012 Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese trophy. Recipes from the event will be posted on the All You Need Is Cheese (www.allyouneedischeese.ca/grilledcheesecookoff) website after August 29th.

Chef Melissa Craig at the 2010 competition.

One the judges who will taste all these gooey creations will be Cheese and Toast’s very own Sue Riedl! I’m sure Sue makes a mean grilled cheese sandwich too! (Awwww, stop. SR) What’s your favourite grilled cheese sandwich? Personally, I like mine with horseradish cheddar (go on!  me too…SR)…or maybe a triple cream mixed with a Swiss style cheese. There are infinite possibilities!

The competition will be held on August 29th at 11am in the All You Need Is Cheese  booth at the CNE in Toronto, ON.

For Curds and Eh 1 (the itinerary), click hereCurds and Eh 2 (Quebec), Click Here, Curds and Eh 3 (Quebec) , click here and Curds and Eh 4 (St.John’s).

**Photo of the grilled cheese from http://theinterrobang.com


Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Travel and Food, Uncategorized