Judging the International Cheese Awards 2018

Being a judge at the International Cheese Awards is my dream job and once again this year I got to live my dream for one day in Nantwich, Cheshire.

The International Cheese Awards is the largest dairy industry event in the UK. This year’s awards saw 300 judges and 158 stewards descend upon the cheese pavilion to judge 5183 different cheese and dairy products across hundreds of categories. That itself is a massive organisational feat, but throw in a lunch for 1350 and you can see why the International Cheese Awards is considered to be the best dairy event in the world.

Judging the International Cheese Awards 2018

The International Cheese Awards draws judges from near and far. In my judging team were Lavinia Newell, a retired cheese-maker from the UK and Sue Arthur, director at Over the Moon Dairy Co and New Zealand Cheese School. Both Lavinia and Sue were incredibly knowledgeable and took their time to explain what characteristics we were looking for in the cheeses we were judging.

Judging the International Cheese Awards 2018

Together we judged two categories – DP2 “Farmhouse / Traditional Cheshire
Cheese – White. Any weight” and DP151 “Soft, Semi-soft or Cream Cheese without Additives – other than Blue Veined Cheese – With Rind. Open to non UK producers”.

The traditional Cheshire cheese category has just 9 cheeses to judge, which was a fairly straight forward task. Lavinia explained that we were looking for a white, crumbly texture. This mellow cheese should break down between your fingers like butter and it should have a slightly nutty flavour. Ultimately we chose the Wensleydale Creamery entry as our winner. Each winning cheese is then put forward to be judged against all the other category winners to find the supreme champion.

Judging the International Cheese Awards 2018

Our second category, the soft, semi soft or cream cheese category had 39 entries which was much harder to judge. There were so many different styles of cheese; from brie to Camembert, burrata to goats cheese and almost everything in between. The winner was an absolutely divine Italian burrata from Masseria Posticchia Sabelli. I suspect it will be hard to find in the UK, but it was an absolute joy to eat.

And just like that, my judging shift was over for another year. All of the winners had been taken away to be judged again with the supreme champion being announced after lunch.

The lunch at the International Cheese Awards is legendary. Lunch saw 1350 enjoying a champagne reception; followed by a lunch of cold meats and hearty salads, delicious puddings made by Mrs Harvey. I’m not sure who this pudding goddess is, but I’d like to get to know her better. Somewhere between the puddings and the epic cheeseboard, the winners were announced.

Judging the International Cheese Awards 2018

The winner and Supreme Champion was Belton Cheese for their Cheshire, a well deserved win! You can find all the winners here on the International Cheese Awards website.

The International Cheese Awards runs alongside the Nantwich Agricultural Show in Cheshire. You can visit the International Cheese Awards and the cheese pavilion on 25th July 2018, but it’ll be back again next year if you’ve missed out!

If reading this has given you a sudden craving for cheese, you might enjoy these mini cheese and pickled walnut quiches.


Preview: International Cheese Awards 2018

If you love cheese as much as I do, then the idea of spending some time exploring and sampling some of the best cheeses from around the world would be your idea of heaven. I’m pleased to say that once again this year I’ll be a judge at the International Cheese Awards. But what else going on in the cheese marquee this year?

The International Cheese Awards is part of the Nantwich Show which takes place on Wednesday 25th July this year. The Nantwich Show is a huge agricultural show and a brilliant day out for families. Early bird tickets are available – adults £15, children’s £5, or just £35 for a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children). Although tickets will also be available at full price on the gate on the day.

ICA2016 Win tickets to the International Cheese Awards and the Nantwich Show

The price of your ticket not only gets you entry to the biggest cheese show in the world, but also to the Nantwich Show, the top one-day agricultural show in the UK. The Nantwich Show has over 450 trade stands, a Shopping and Craft Marquee, livestock displays, countryside pursuits and vintage cars, tractors and machinery. See, I told you it was a great family day out!

If the Nantwich Show and the International Cheese Awards isn’t enough to tempt you; celebrity chef James Martin will be cooking in the demo kitchen. He’ll be doing cookery demonstrations at 11am and 3pm, with tickets priced at £5. These tickets always sell out fast, so don’t leave it too long to book your place!

International Cheese Awards
Picture credit: International Cheese Awards

Other chefs in the demo kitchen this year include Will Holland and Jonathan Harrison; as well as artisan cheesemaker Sean Wilson. These shows are free of charge, but are first come, first served; so make sure you get there early to secure your seat.

Last year’s International Cheese Awards was the biggest yet, with 5685 entries across hundreds of different categories. The cheese marquee is huge, filled with exhibitors from all over the world. It’s a great opportunity to try some new cheeses, plus some of the exhibitors have special offers on, so you can go home laden with enough cheese to keep you going for the summer (that’s what I do).

Judging the International Cheese Awards 2017

Win tickets to the International Cheese Awards and the Nantwich Show

To be in with a chance to win a family ticket to the International Cheese Awards and the Nantwich Show for two adults and two children, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent a family ticket to the International Cheese Awards and the Nantwich Show for two adults and two children.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 8th July 2018.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide an email address and a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed onto International Cheese Awards to post the above mentioned prize out to the winner.
11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Preview: The International Cheese Awards 2017

On Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th July this year the good people of Nantwich in Cheshire will be bracing themselves for a celebration of all things dairy (but mainly cheese) as the 120th International Cheese Awards 2017 rolls into town for their annual cheese extravaganza – held in tandem with the Nantwich Agricultural Show.

Preview: The International Cheese Awards 2017 + WIN Tickets!

Tuesday 25th  is Trade and Judging day, but on Wednesday 26th the enormous cheese pavilion is open to the public. Browse and buy cheese direct from the makers, find out more about the dairy industry, sample some of the thousands of cheeses there or spot a famous face and join one of the celebrity chefs in the demo kitchen.

Preview: The International Cheese Awards 2017 + WIN Tickets!

Tickets for the demo kitchen sessions are limited, so if you’re heading off to the show then don’t forget to book before you go. Watch top chefs James Martin, Will Holland, Sean Wilson and Jonathan Harrison demonstrate their skills in the kitchen and learn how impress and delight your guests with some delicious cheese based cookery!

Last year’s International Cheese Awards attracted an amazing 5000 entries, making the International Cheese Awards the biggest and best cheese show in the world. Last year’s Supreme Champion and winner of the Westminster Cup 2016 was Treur Kaas for their aged Jerseyhoeve Schorren, with Waitrose scooping Supreme Retailer for 2016. Which cheese will come out top this year?

Preview: The International Cheese Awards 2017 + WIN Tickets!

The International Cheese Awards is a fantastic day out. The Nantwich Agricultural Show and the International Cheese Awards are a great way to spend a day out with the family at the start of the summer holidays. I go every year, and for the last few years I have been a cheese judge, which is the most fun ever!

For more information about the International Cheese Awards and to buy tickets to the awards and the Nantwich Show, visit their website.