Toby Murray of Beechwood Fine Foods, the farm shop and café deli in Tring, Herts, recently participated as one of the judges for the World Cheese Awards held at the NEC on 23 November 2011, in conjunction with the BBC Good Food Show.
The 200 judges were grouped into teams of four with each team judging approximately 55 cheeses from different classes. Toby’s team included Cathy Strange, Whole Foods Market global cheese buyer, Mandi StClair, a deli owner in Lyme Regis, and Alex James, formally of Blur, now a renowned cheese maker. The team’s classes included Extra Mature Cheddars, Mozzarellas, Blue Goats Cheese, ‘Other Hard Cheeses’ and ‘Cheese With Flavourings’. Each team could award as many Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards as they wished but were then required to choose one Super Gold to go forward to the Final. Toby’s team selected Deichkäse – Large – produced by Hofkäserei Backensholz GmbH & Co KG, which is a hard cheese with a strong, spicy flavour and subtle caramel notes. This particular cheese made it to the final 16.
“France snatched the top World Cheese Awards trophy back from Britain when judges crowned a 10-month Ossau Iraty the 2011 World Champion, beating last year’s winner, Cornish Blue, by a narrow margin. It’s the second time round for farmhouse producer Fromagerie Agour, which took the top title in 2006 with the same variety” reports the Guild of Fine Foods.
Toby was invited to participate as a judge via the Guild, of which Beechwood Fine Foods is an accredited member. This is the second year that the BBC Good Food Show has hosted the World Cheese Awards, which has run for more than 20 years. It is the largest cheese competition in the world; more than 40 tonnes of cheese from over 2,500 entries were judged by the two hundred selected judges.
Toby said, “I was extremely honoured to take part in the awards alongside such notable names in the food industry, and no doubt I was the envy of many participating with Alex James from Blur! Apparently he has renovated a cheese farm in the Cotswolds which now produces award-winning cheeses and is a thoroughly nice chap.” Beechwood Fine Foods stock ‘Blue Monday’, a creamy Shropshire blue, sharp with a very faint sourness, which is named after Alex’ favourite New Order song. “The day was tiring but excellent fun and rounded off by a great opportunity to see the best of the Good Food Show, a fantastic event in its own right.”
For further information, contact Toby and Sarah Murray on tel: 01442 828812.