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

6 responses to “Canadian Cheese Grand Prix -Behind the Scenes as a Judge

  1. lisahutchinson

    As usual I love her column but I went into the finalist and I have so many questions!

    This is quite a mix of artisanal and regular corporate dairy am I right? Why are they mixed? Why would they be judging supermarket cheese and good cheese together? There are many we don’t have but maybe should try- thoughts Queso fresco- we must be able to get it

    Sent from my iPad

    • Hi Lisa-

      The rules say that as long as the cheese is made from 100% Canadian milk you can enter. Industrial or large scale cheese making can produce good cheese and sometimes artisinal cheese makers can produce less favourable cheese or inconsistent product. Cheesemaking is a craft and takes years to master. I love and support our artisinal and farmstead cheesemakers and those are the cheese I mostly buy and consume, but Balderson cheddar which I think is a very good cheese is made on a large scale. It really depends on how much effort the producer is putting into the recipe, technique and quality of the product.

      So–this is not a statement in support of industrial cheesemakers– I think the goal is to award dedication of the craft of cheesemaking and in this case as entries are not limited to size of production.

      Lastly, keep in mind, many smaller cheesemakers use sheep or goat milk and this competiton is only cow’s milk so is draws different sizes of producers.

      I hope this explains how in this competition the process works? Thanks for the note,


  2. Carolann

    Glad you had a good time,Sue. I don’t think I could look at cheese for a long time after a week end of tasting! CarolAnn

  3. You look so official in your white coat and clipboard! Very impressive : )

  4. It was great reading your article, too- thanks for sharing this outstanding experience. It sounds absolutely fantastic to sample all those cheeses- how cool is that?! My fave category to sample is washed rind, too, although I love hard cheeses. I agree that blues would appear to be over-the-top. Wish I was there and can’t wait for the results!! (now shopping for the finalists..)

  5. Pingback: Yours cheesily, Johanne | Fashion in Motion

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