What a ‘Cheesy’ week! With the Royal Bath & West Show now over for another year the British Cheese Awards is one of the show’s highlights and as promised here is my roundup of my visit & Judging this year. If you just want to see who has won then click the link BCA Winners 2016 Area Order and it will bring up a PDF file with all the winners.
Below I shall split my roundup into two days to make it easier to recall and to read.
Tuesday 31st May
After a busy day having finished organising the cheese counter at work I headed home at 1.3opm ready for my nights stay at the Wookey Hole Hotel. Contemplating all the lovely cheese that awaits I got home and had a quick turn around to hit the round again. The journey was a little painful through Salisbury meaning we actually got to the hotel at 5.3opm but nethertheless we arrived and went to have our dinner. I must note at this point that they have changed the menu with some lovely new options to have for dinner; i opted for a lovely chicken, tomato & pesto spaghetti with Grana Padano. After our delightful dinner we took a walk around the entrance of the Wookey Hole Caves and absorbed some of the local scenery.
Once back in my room I prepared my kit for the morning which consisted of my cheese iron, filofax (80s I know but wouldn’t be without it!), info pack and ticket for the showground; to say I was excited at this point even though it was my 3rd year was an understatement. All prepared I was ready for turning in for a 6.30am start and for the excitement of the Judging & Show.
Wednesday 1st June
Waking up with a spring our step we headed for a quick breakfast and then left for our short trip across Wells to the Royal Bath & West showground at Shepton Mallet . Arriving at the show for 8.30am we got our tickets checked and headed into the showground with me making a bee-line to the Cheese pavilion for the Judges briefing at 9.15am. Trying not to get distracted on-route I gained entry into the Cheese pavilion where I met with some friendly faces and caught up with their news over the last year. All set Mike Pullin gave us an overview of what was to come and where to find our Judging Partners & Categories. My Judging Partner was Richard Paul (Director of Bradburys) and we found our classes (Which I won’t disclose just incase) to commence the Judging.
We worked through the smaller classes first and ended on the largest for speediness; it also helps keep the flow better for the awards. It came to a break period so we stopped for a coffee and I tallied up the scores in neater handwriting. After a short break we handed the scoring sheets in and concluded our 1st Judging round followed by a 45 minute lunch break. I had to head outside to my Mum & Sister who had spent the morning looking around the show to find Gourmet Grilled Cheese for a catch-up and some lunch of course! Having located Emma & Andy we spoke about how well they were doing and what cheeses had caught my eye today (without revealing too much!), all while a signature smokey was toasting away. Breaking away from the hustle & bustle of their location we munched on our grilled cheese sandwiches before I returned to the Awards.
Upon returning to the Awards the 2nd round of Judging was required which is the ‘Best Of’ in the classes awarded in the 1st round, so Gold, Silver & Bronze in the classes will be re-judged to find a ‘Best Of Class winner’. I put myself forward for Best PDO & Best Export just to gain some further experience and to have some variation in my day. When these concluded and Judges started to dissipate and retire for the day I stayed until the end; which I’m so glad I did. I was extremely fortunate to be invited onto the Supreme Champion Judging table where 9 of us had to decide the overall winner of the show. Below is a picture tweeted out by Justin Tunstall during the deciding talks about cheese.
It was an absolute privilege to be part of these talks and the overall winner was Cropwell Bishop Shropshire Blue which was such a perfect example of a blue cheese and Shropshire on the day it was the certainly the Supreme Champion.
The Reserve Champion was won by St Thom which is a Goats cheese by Lightwood from Phil Hulland which again was a lovely cheese but just didn’t quite have the well-rounded perfection that the Shropshire Blue had on the day. With our winners decided and several press photos & videos later we said our goodbyes and concluded the 2016 British Cheese Awards. It was a phenomenal experience this year and I must personally say thank you to Rachael Hann, Richard Paul and Tanys & Mike Pullin for providing support in the build up and on the day. Without their support I wouldn’t be a Judge or a Supreme Champion Judge. I’m certainly looking forward to 2017 but with my fingers crossed that I can get to the International Cheese Awards at Nantwich this year with hopefully some help from Bradburys & Belton Farm.
Have a good evening