The International Cheese Awards 2015: Show Round-up

Another year, another amazing International Cheese Awards at Nantwich. This year’s show – the 118th – proved beyond any doubt that we really are the biggest and the best cheese show in the world!
First up was Judging, Trade and Press Day on Tuesday 28th July. This is such an important day in the dairy calendar, reflected in the records which this year’s show broke across the board. 2014’s entries – 4,443 from 26 countries, itself a record at the time – was surpassed beyond our wildest dreams, eventually closing on 4,615 entries from an incredible 31 countries. The eventual Supreme Champion of the International Cheese Awards 2015 and winner of The National Westminster Cup was Greenfields Dairy Products with their Farmhouse Traditional Crumbly Lancashire cheese, with Reserve Supreme Champion and winner of the Paul Smith-Palmer Memorial Trophy announced as  E.M. Treur en Zn. BV with their Jerseyhoeve Dieken (extra Belegen) from the Netherlands. Waitrose once again scooped Supreme Retailer by winning the most Gold Awards at the show, with an impressive total of 26 from 77 categories. The ICA have been delighted to see the continued growth and importance at the show of the Retailer Section and in recognition of this for 2015 we introduced  four new Retailer of the Year Awards – Cheddar (won by Asda), Healthy Cheese (Asda again), Speciality (Co-Operative Food) and Cheese Board (Morrisons).
It wasn’t just about the judging though – there was plenty of fun to be had elsewhere in the 83,000 square feet Cheese Pavilion. The Little Milk Co. on the Ireland stand put on a repeat of their cheese and whiskey pairing sessions, one of the highlights of last year’s show and equally popular this year, introducing us to some more ingenious combinations of Irish artisan cheeses and Irish whiskies. The Trade Lunch sponsored by Culina completely sold out once again – this year more than 1,200 people sat down together to eat in the hospitality tent, setting another new record for the largest dairy hospitality event in the UK. During lunch, more new members were inducted into the International Guilde des Fromagers, including our very own Ian Luxton.
Wednesday, July 29th was Show Day, and with the weather much nicer than had been forecast the crowds were soon streaming into the show ground that we share with the Nantwich Agricultural Show – the biggest one day farming show in the UK. Our celebrity chefs James Martin, Will Holland, Sean Wilson and Jonathan Harrison once again treated us to some wonderful demonstrations in the Le Gruyere Cookery Theatre, with James declaring on Saturday Kitchen this week that we’re “the best festival in the world”! Elsewhere, a record number of traders (more than 100) were talking all things cheese and giving out plenty of delicious samples – I was even lucky enough to catch Aldo Zilli on the Divo Italiano stall, where he whipped me up a delicious salad (don’t worry – it did have cheese in it). Also very popular once again were the “Meet the Experts” masterclasses with Adams Foods, as were the very friendly Babybel cow spotted roaming around the pavilion and the “cheesy selfies” being taken over on the Lactalis McLelland display.
All in all, an amazing couple of days with huge thanks go to everyone who made it possible – the judges and stewards who so generously gave up their time, the 274 exhibitors who entered produce, our sponsors, the tireless organising team, the caterers, the chefs, the traders, the thousands of people who came to the show…and anyone else I’ve forgotten! Put the following dates in your diaries – 26th July 2016 (Trade Day) and 27th July 2016 (Show Day) – and we’ll see you all again next year! In the meantime, don’t forget to follow us over on Twitter @icheeseawards for updates and cheesy news to keep you going until ICA2016