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Kraftkar from Norway crowned World Champion Cheese 2016

Amy Brice

World Cheese Awards

Kraftkar, made by Norwegian producer Tingvollost, has scooped the coveted title of World Champion Cheese at the 29th annual World Cheese Awards, coming top among a record number of entries that were judged at the Kursaal Congress Centre in San Sebastián, during the first day of the International Cheese Festival.

The winning Kraftkar beat off competition from over 3,000 entries into the world’s largest cheese-only awards scheme this year, with judge Nick Tsioros, owner of Olympic Cheese in Toronto, who championed this cheese, saying, “This 12-month aged blue cheese is wonderfully balanced, it has a great crumbly texture, but is soft and smooth on the tongue. The mould has developed nicely and comes across really well in the overall flavour of the cheese.” The final International Super Jury, representing nations including Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the USA, concurred, awarding Kraftkar the highest score of the final judging stage.

Gunnar Waagen from Tingvollost explained,

“I have no words, this is marvellous news! We are a family-run farm and work long days to make our cheese. We get up early every day and go to bed very late to make the best cheese we can, and so to win this award, I am very proud.”

Kraftkar was awarded 71 points out of a possible 80 by the Super Jury of 16 judges, just ahead of a Spanish duo in joint second place with 67 points; Cala Blanc from Lacto Industrial Menorquina and Cremositos Del Zujar from Arteserena.

John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of the World Cheese Awards, commented;

“Hats off to Tingvollost for landing the top prize this year, when once again we’ve had a record number of entries. This cheese really is world class, having faced stiff competition from over 30 different countries. The World Cheese Awards has provided a wonderful spectacle, as our judges made their way through over 3,000 cheeses in a single day, bringing together the global cheese community to celebrate a timeless tradition that really does transcend borders. We would like to thank our hosts, Artzai Gazta and the Basque Country Government, for inviting us to San Sebastián this year, making cheese the biggest gastronomic spectacle during the city’s tenure as European Capital of Culture.”

Drawing entries from 31 different countries, from Australia to Italy and Mexico to Mozambique, cheese of all shapes and sizes made their way by bicycle, boat, plane, train, truck and car to the Kursaal Congress Centre in San Sebastián, via 12 consolidation points in all corners of the globe. 266 cheese experts from 26 different nations followed them to the Basque Country to taste, nose and grade over 3,000 cheeses in a single day, giving Bronze, Silver, Gold and Super Gold awards to worthy entries.

The final judging panel, made up of top names from the world of cheese, featuring cheese makers, buyers, retailers and writers, including Suzy O'Regan from Woolworths Foods in South Africa, Cathy Strange from Whole Foods in the USA, Roland Barthélemy, President of Guilde des Fromagers in France, and Mary Quicke from Quicke's in the UK, then debated the top 16 cheeses in front of a trade and consumer audience, broadcast live on World Cheese TV, before crowning this year’s World Champion Cheese.

More information on the World Cheese Awards and the Guild of Fine Food can be found at www.gff.co.uk/awards/world-cheese-awards.