Maine cheese makers won ten awards at the 2015 American Cheese Society Judging and Competition announced at this year’s ACS Conference in Providence, RI. The ACS cheese competition is the largest competition in North America and includes entries from the US, Canada, and beyond.
From among 267 companies submitting 1,779 entries seven Maine cheese makers won ten awards including four 1st place ribbons, four 2nd place, and two 3rd place ribbons. This is the most ribbons that Maine cheese makers have collected at a ACS competition since 2007 and it reflects the number of Maine cheese makers who could arrange to get their cheeses to the conference being held only a few hours drive from our cheese rooms.
First time competitors such Barred Owl Creamery in Whitefield, and Tide Mill Creamery in Edmunds won awards, as well as long time cheese makers like Appleton Creamery and York Hill Farm who have each won multiple ACS awards in past competitions.
Following are a list of the awards listed alphabetically by creamery name:
—1st Place in Marinated Goat Cheese for Chevre In Olive Oil
Barred Owl Creamery
—1st Place in Sheep or Mixed Milk Feta for Organic Feta
—2nd Place in Farmstead Cheese With Flavor Added for Hot Pepper Jelly Chevre
Fuzzy Udder Creamery
—2nd Place in Sheep or Mixed Milk Plain Yogurt for Sheep Milk Yogurt
Swallowtail Farm and Creamery
—2nd Place in Cows Milk Ricotta for Ricotta Salata
—2nd Place in Yogurt With Flavor Added for Caramel Sea Salt Greek Style Yogurt
—3rd Place in Cows Milk Plain Yogurt for Original Cream Top Jersey Cow Milk Yogurt
Tide Mill Creamery
—1st Place in Sheep or Mixed Milk Soft Ripened Cheeses for Little Bloom
Winter Hill Farm
—3rd Place in Farmstead Aged Less Than 60 Days for Tide Line
York Hill Farm
—1st Place in Goats Milk Soft Ripened Cheeses for Ripened Chevre Roll With Ash
Friday began with an early morning meeting among the different Cheese Guilds to talk about the work that the Guilds do and where the Guilds and ACS can help each other. I was very disappointed with the discussion last year and had heard that this year the ACS Board had identified that defining and strengthening the connection between the regional Guilds and the national organization was a priority. One of the newest members on the Board (Vern Caldwell from the Oregon Cheese Guild) had tasked himself the job of coordinating this effort.
After introductions (in which there were quite a few announcements of brand new or fairly new Guilds being formed in Washington State, the Rocky Mountains, and Pennsylvania) ACS Executive Director Nora Weiser explained that ACS wanted to be careful not to overreach in their relationship with the Guilds to make sure the Guilds did not feel manipulated by ACS. Unfortunately she could stay for only 30 minutes of the long-scheduled one hour meeting in which many of the Guilds asked for MORE collaboration with ACS, especially in a way that would help justify the $199 annual individual membership cost for cheese makers in the Guilds.
And we’re off!
Following a warm walk up to the convention center we sat down to a Vermont Pancake Breakfast (sponsored by the VT Cheese Council) with made to order pancakes and VT maple syrup “shots” on the table. We sat with a pair of guys from The Loan Grazer Creamery in Minneapolis, MF (yes! right in the City) and talked string cheese.
The keynote speaker for the conference was Mark Canlis is a Seattle restaurateur who is NOT a cheese maker (one of the first points he made) but who wanted us to step back from the “rules” of food and cheese making and take a look at the concept and history of “hospitality.” Canlis believes passionately that he is in the business of relationships and trust and that it’s important for all of us to ask us AND our employees “Who are you becoming?” and “Who do you want to become?” And it’s only through this kind of awareness of our true goals that we can succeed in business and in life. In the midst of his talk he staged a Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament that illustrated the power of support and positive belief in Others (which ties into the history of Hospitality) for both you that other person.