International Cheese & Diary Awards 2021

Formerly known as the Nantwich Dairy Show and for over 100 years this event has been the biggest platform to champion world-class produce in the world. Attracting thousands of entries every year to compete in what is now known as the International Cheese & Dairy Awards.

I was invited to be one of the judges at this year’s awards at Bingley Hall, Staffordshire and it was an absolute pleasure to be part of this great experience.

ICDA 2021

On arrival we registered and received our judging packs, by 9am we were briefed and were heading towards the hall where over 3000 cheeses awaited us. We were in groups of 3-4 and each group had a steward to assist us. We tasted 20-30 cheeses in total that day, voting on which we thought had the best taste. Out of all the cheeses that I had tasted that day Red Fox Red Leicester and Meredith Dairy Goats cheese were my favourites!

I learnt so much about cheese, how to properly taste them.. and what a defect cheese looked like! With most tastings there’s usually a technique to get the best outcome. For cheese they use a tool called cheese trier or iron, used by cheesemakers and mongers for hundreds of years to take samples from unopened wheels of cheese. This little tool enables the cheesemaker or cheesemonger to assess the texture, maturity, and flavour of the cheese without opening it up.

Insert trier/iron into the cheese and turn a full circle and remove, we all inspected the cheese to see whether it had residue, texture and how it smelt. As this was my first time I didn’t really know what I’d be sniffing out but some of my team sniffed out cowy.. and farmy.. for majority of our cheese we tried, I was quite impressed with their knowledge! We then took some cheese off to try by mashing the cheese in your hands 8 times whilst smelling it then putting it in your mouth and if you can hold it on your mouth before really tasting it. There was so much complexity in every cheese we tasted that day, and this technique definitely enhanced my tastebuds.

Before we sat down for food we had the privilege to explore the show before it was opened to the public! There were a lot of cheese stands, condiments, cured sausage, alcohol and bakery and so much more!

For the public there were live chef demonstrations and cookery schools. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the the visitor show this year but I am hoping to go next year Friday 1st July & Saturday 2nd July 2022.

For lunch we were at The Prestwood Centre where we all had a roast and they announced the winners of supreme champions of 2021.

🏆 The Champion UK – Arla’s 1780 Blue Cheese

🏆 The Reserve Champion UK – Appleby’s Dairy

🏆 The Champion Overseas – MAAZ Cheese BV | Hommage Matured Aged Goat

🏆 The Reserve Champion Overseas – FBNZ New Zealand

It was a pleasure to be apart of a big community of cheese lovers, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was amazing to meet new friends! I am looking forward to next years ICDA trade show! Congratulations again, to the winners of 2021!

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