7 November 2019
By Elaine Murphy
The 2019 CÁIS Irish Cheese Awards is due to take place tonight at Cork’s Metropole Hotel, with winners to be commended during a lavish black-tie gala dinner. 2019 marks the eighth year of the biennial awards and CÁIS, the Association of Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers, have seen the bar suitably raised thanks to over 200 entries from 50 Irish farmhouse cheese producers.
The prestigious ceremony will see members of CÁIS; key sponsors such as Ornua, Pallas Foods and Bord Bia; judges; cheesemakers; and members of the public congregate in celebration of the abundant, diverse and exquisite range of Irish farmhouse cheeses produced on home soil. This truly unique ceremony is exclusively dedicated to both artisan and large-scale cheese producers from all corners of Ireland, with competition stiffer than ever before as entrants go for gold.
Those in attendance on the night will enjoy a gourmet 5-course dining experience courtesy of this year’s bespoke menu, which will incorporate a selection of winning cheeses from the 2017 awards. Mouthwatering dishes will be carefully curated by the Metropole’s Head Chef Stuart Dardis, who has garnered a strong food-lover following since taking over the kitchen at the Metropole. MC for the evening will be none other than journalist and broadcaster Helen Carroll from RTÉ’s Ear to the Ground, adding star quality to a prestigious event that has been creating quite a buzz among the Irish food community.
This year’s selection of judges includes a number of well-known personalities such as Catherine Fulvio, TV chef, award-winning food writer, author and proprietor of Ballyknocken House & Cookery School; Ross Lewis, Michelin Starred Head Chef at Chapter One Restaurant in Dublin; and food writers/bloggers Patrick Hanlon and Russell Alford, collectively known as The Gastrogays. The elite judging panel also includes Patrick Clement, Head of Culinary at Pallas Foods; Dr Matthew O’Callaghan OBE, member of UK Protected Food Names Association and Artisan Cheese Fair organiser; Catherine Mead OBE, Chairperson of Specialist Cheesemakers Association (UK) and cheesemaker/owner at Lynher Dairies; Aoife Carrigy, freelance food writer and editor; Dr John McKenna, food writer; Enda Howley, Cheese Grading Expert with Ornua; Monica Murphy, cheese and wine expert; Rory Mellis, Wholesale Director of Mellis Cheese LTD; Dr Kieran Jordan of Teagasc; Diarmuid Murphy, Simply Better Brand Manager for Dunnes Stores; and John Leverrier, Quality Manager of Sheridans Cheesemongers.
The judges were tasked with the particularly difficult job of putting the eclectic variety of cheeses to the taste test to identify their chosen worthy award winners. Each cheese entered was assessed under three key criteria: flavour and aroma, body and texture, and overall appearance of cheese, while packaging and branding was also taken into consideration within the ‘Retailer’ and ‘New Cheesemaker’ categories. The judging process was a thorough, in-depth exercise, with each judge working hard to ensure the efforts of the country’s finest cheesemakers were awarded accordingly.
The 2019 ceremony will also – for the first time ever – see a prize be awarded to one lucky winner as a result of a public vote. In the lead up to the event, CÁIS appealed to the general public to share their valued views, inviting cheese lovers to cast their vote for their favourite Irish farmhouse cheese. The winner of this category will be announced on the night.
Commenting ahead of the awards ceremony, Padraig O’Farrell of CÁIS said: “The Irish Cheese Awards provide those involved in the industry with a wonderful platform to showcase their work and to transform their brands into household names within Ireland and beyond. The event itself also offers an opportunity for producers, both on a large and small scale, to network and build community links.”
He continued: “It’s a busy and exciting time for those involved in the Irish Cheese Awards, with competitors and judges alike eager to see the superb range of produce quite literally brought to the table. We have a wonderful list of entrants this year and we are excited to promote and commend these top-quality producers and brand names through these important awards.”
A limited number of tickets are still available for the event. Priced at €69 per person, tickets for the 2019 Irish Cheese Awards are available from Eventbrite online or alternatively, can be purchased on the CÁIS website by visiting www.irishcheese.ie/irish-cheese-awards. For more information on CÁIS and the Irish Cheese Awards 2019, visit www.irishcheese.ie. For social media updates, follow CAISIreland on Facebook and @caisireland on Twitter or follow the conversation using #IrishCheeseAwards
Complete List of Categories
CREAMERY CHEDDAR AGED UP TO 6 MONTHS
CREAMERY CHEDDAR AGED 6 MONTHS PLUS
RETAILERS CLASS: SOFT TO SEMI-SOFT CHEESES, ALL MILK TYPES
RETAILERS CLASS: SEMI-HARD TO HARD CHEESES, ALL MILK TYPES
FRESH / SOFT CHEESE, ALL MILK TYPES
GOAT’S MILK CHEESE, AGED UNDER 2 MONTHS
GOATS MILK CHEESE, AGED OVER 2 MONTHS
SHEEP’S MILK CHEESE
WHITE (BLOOMY) RINDED CHEESE, ALL MILK TYPES
WASHED RIND CHEESE (SEMI-SOFT) ALL MILK TYPES
BLUE CHEESE, ALL MILK TYPES
HARD / SEMI‐HARD CHEESE, AGED UNDER 6 MONTHS, ALL MILK TYPES
HARD / SEMI-HARD CHEESE, AGED OVER 6 MONTHS, ALL MILK TYPES
FRESH / SOFT / SEMI-SOFT, FLAVOUR ADDED, ALL MILK TYPES
HARD / SEMI-HARD, FLAVOUR ADDED CHEESE, ALL MILK TYPES
SMOKED CHEESE, ALL MILK TYPES
BEST NEW CHEESE IN LAST 24 MONTHS, ALL MILKS
RAW MILK CHEESE, ALL MILK TYPES
BEST NEW CHEESEMAKER, NEW ENTRANT TO CHEESEMAKING SINCE 2016
Since it was established in 1983, CÁIS has continuously nurtured and promoted the art of cheesemaking in Ireland.
Quality control has always been high on the CÁIS agenda, with the group establishing their own code of practice and maintaining constant contact with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland to encourage the upkeep of high standards, both with established cheesemakers and newcomers to the industry.
Over the course of more than three decades, CÁIS have heavily involved in the promotion of cheese competitions on a national and international level.
The marketing of Irish farmhouse cheeses is also a primary focus of CÁIS.
Over the years CÁIS has developed a constructive and positive relationship with both government bodies organisations such as the Department of Agriculture, Bord Bia, FÁS and more, who have helped them on their mission to create awareness of the Irish farmhouse cheese industry, both at home, and abroad