Stockinghall from Murray’s Cheese, New York, was named Best of Show among 1,742 entries in the American Cheese Society’s (ACS) 2019 Judging & Competition. The results were announced at the 36th Annual ACS Conference: Virginia Is For Cheese Lovers, which was held earlier this month at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, Richmond, Va.
Second place Best of Show went to Professor’s brie from Wegmans Food Markets, New York, ACS said. Third place Best of Show was awarded to Aries from Shooting Star Creamery in California.
This year’s Best of Show cheeses indicate that the traditional European practice of producers working in collaboration with “affineurs” is growing in the United States, ACS said. Affinage is the practice of aging cheese in caves carefully regulated in temperature and humidity.
Both the first and second place Best of Show cheeses were created through such partnerships between cheesemakers — in this case, Old Chatham Creamery — and affineurs, in this case, both retailers. First place winner Stockinghal was produced by Old Chatham Creamery then handed over to Murray’s Cheese to age in its Long Island City caves, ACS said, while Professor’s brie, also made by Old Chatham Creamery, was aged in Wegmans Food Markets’ caves in Rochester, N.Y.
“We worked with Old Chatham Creamery for several years to make Stockinghall, which is their only cheddar,” said Josh Windsor, affineur for Murray’s Cheese. “Aged cheddars are finicky and hard to produce — this cheese was truly a labor of love.”
Growing from just 89 entries 35 years ago, the ACS Judging & Competition this year welcomed cheeses and cultured dairy products from 257 companies. Competing entries represented 35 U.S. states, four Canadian provinces, Mexico and Brazil. ACS said it awarded a total of 433 awards, including 139 gold medals, 143 silver medals and 151 bronze medals.
“It has been a wonderful experience to work with our team to create our cheese caves in Rochester and work with cheesemakers on unique cheeses for Wegmans,” said Cathy Gaffney, vice president at Wegmans Food Markets and ACS board president. “Professor’s brie was named in honor of Dave Galton, owner of Old Chatham, and my former professor at Cornell University. This award is proof that this model of production can create phenomenal American artisan cheese.”
Third place winner “Aries” was created by cheese industry newcomer Avery Jones. Only 15 years old, Jones proves that exceptional cheeses aren’t only produced by established cheesemakers, ACS said. The daughter of Reggie Jones of Central Coast Creamery in Paso Robles, California, she is part of a new generation driving excellence and innovation in the American artisan cheese industry.
“It’s an exciting year for American cheese,” said Nora Weiser, ACS executive director. “We have new producers, new production models and fresh new faces that are pushing the envelope and expanding creativity and collaboration within American artisan cheese.”
For a list of all of this year’s winners and judges, visit https://www.cheesesociety.org/competition-winners.