Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Cheese Show 2010


Posted by Nibbler | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 08-02-2010

The RAS holds it’s Cheese & Dairy Show  in February each year. Entries from both small farmhouse cheesemakers as well the big industrial cheese companies like King Island are on show. There are hundreds of exhibits every year from all over Australia.

This is the second year that I have stewarded at the RAS’ cheese show. Stewarding is hard work but fun. Stewards are responsible for fetching the cheese from the fridge, unwrapping and then cutting the cheese. Stewards support the judges as they assess and mark each cheese. Essentially, you keep an eye on the cheeses and judges, as well as run back and forth to the fridge alot.

Perhaps this isn’t sounding like too much fun, but a steward has the opportunity to watch, listen and learn as each cheese is judged. Although judging is independent (and silent) at the start of each class the judges confer on the first three exhibits to ensure that no judge is being too severe or too lenient in their marking.

Breaks in the schedule offer the opportunity to discuss the different exhibits and to understand why certain defects or flaws occur. Sometimes it is packaging, sometimes the cheese is past its prime. Other defects can occur if the cheesemaker has not stored or aged the cheese carefully.

The judges come from all over Australia and most have worked in the cheese or dairy industry in Australia for many years. Many have judged internationally. Some judges are from the food media or in the sale or distribution of cheese. (Of course judges cannot have conflicts of interest with any exhibitors). This year we had an international judge from France. As the French judge was in my panel of judges I was fascintated to learn some of the differences both in the presentation of cheese and in the judging process between our show and France. French cheese judging seems particularly strict and more regimented than the Australian system.

From 7:30am until 4pm each class of cheese and its exhibits were tasted, judged and marked. A full day devoted to cheese. My idea of heaven!

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