Curd nerds and cheesemakers from all over the world gathered in San Sebastián on Thursday 17 November for the 29th annual World Cheese Awards. Over 3000 cheeses were exhibited, from countries as diverse as Australia, the Basque Country, France, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, the USA and the UK.
However, there could only be one winner, and this year the honour went to Norwegian producer, Tingvollost, for their amazing blue cheese kraftkar.
Speaking after scooping the top prize, cheesemaker Gunnar Waagen said: “I have no words. It is marvellous. I don’t believe it. We’ve made cheese for about ten years. We are a little family in the middle of Norway trying to do our best every day. We get up early and sleep late.” Tingvollost is a family-run dairy farm that only produces 20 tonnes of cheese annually and the cheese is made using milk from their own farm. The name kraftkar, means ‘strongman’, and is a reference to a legendary farmhand from the region, Tore Nordbø, who had supernatural strength. Cheese judge Nick Tsioros, owner of Olympic Cheese in Toronto, said of kraftkar: “This 12-month aged blue cheese is wonderfully balanced, it has a great crumbly texture, but is soft and smooth on the tongue. The mould has developed nicely and comes across really well in the overall flavour of the cheese.”
John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of the World Cheese Awards, added: “What an incredible way to cap off another record-breaking year for the World Cheese Awards. We were certainly in the presence of greatness this morning, as nearly three decades’ worth of World Champion Cheeses took to the stage in front of our audience of food professionals, cheese-makers, journalists, buyers and retailers. This was definitely a moment to remember.”