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World Cheese Awards announces record-breaking entries, as Japanese cheesemakers join competition

Amy Brice

WCA entry stats

Records are set to be broken across the board at this year’s World Cheese Awards, with 3,804 cheeses due to be judged in Bergamo on Friday 18 October, as the competition visits Italy for the first time. A 10% increase on last year’s record, these entries will represent more nations than ever before and will see Japanese cheesemakers making their debut at the awards, following Japan being added to the list of countries permitted to export dairy products to the EU earlier this year.

Japanese entries including hard, soft, blue, brown, goat’s and smoked cheeses will join entries representing 42 nations from six continents, which will all be judged in a single day at Fiera di Bergamo. Following the morning’s judging session, when Bronze, Silver, Gold and Super Gold awards will be decided, the best of the best will be debated in front of a live audience, before the World Champion Cheese 2019 is announced across the globe on WCA TV.

This year, the largest cheese-only competition on the planet will form part of an epic celebration of all things cheese in Bergamo, as the city’s annual FORME festival expands to include the brand new international dairy trade show, B2Cheese (www.b2cheese.it). A bustling cheese market will also be taking place in the medieval heart of Bergamo and visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the World Cheese Awards action with a free exhibition of World Champion Cheeses at the Palazzo della Ragione and tickets available to witness the judging unfold live and to join tasting tours over the weekend.

Record-breaking numbers

  • 3,804 entries into the 32nd edition of the competition (10% increase on record set in 2018)

  • Entries representing 42 different nations from six continents

  • 260 judges from 35 different countries, including Barbados, Japan, New Zealand and Russia, including cheesemakers, cheesemongers, buyers, chefs and food commentators

Intercontinental competitors

  • 42 entries from Japan – the first time Japanese cheese will be judged at WCA

  • 845 entries from Italy, in its first year as host nation (102% increase from 2018)

  • Mexican entries ranging from traditional cheeses such as Queso Chihuahua and Queso Panela to international styles including Gouda, Mozzarella and Manchego

  • Entries featuring chocolate, caramel, butternut squash and harissa from South Africa

  • Australian entries including fresh buffalo curd, labna and goat’s cheese wrapped in vine leaves

  • Entries from Argentina, Brazil and Chile representing South America’s cheesemakers

Palates on the panel

  • Nicola Bentoglio, master taster at ONAF in Italy

  • Gill Meller, chef and food writer from the UK

  • Roland Barthélemy, president of the Guilde des Fromagers in France

  • Kris Lloyd, head cheesemaker at Woodside Cheese Wrights in Australia

  • Carlos Yescas, cheesemonger and author from Mexico

  • Cathy Strange, global cheese buyer at Whole Foods Market USA

  • Regula Ysewijn, food writer and host of Bake Off Vlaanderen in Belgium

The World Cheese Awards, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, will take place on Friday 18 October 2019, forming part of the FORME festival in Bergamo, which will run from Thursday 17 to Sunday 20 October.

For more information about the World Cheese Awards, visit www.gff.co.uk/wca.