The International Cheese Awards 2014: Show Round-up

So, it’s all over for another year. The marquee has been taken down and all the cheese has gone (the little that wasn’t sold or eaten, that is). For those of us already looking forward to next year’s show – the 118th – here’s what made ICA2014 the biggest and best cheese show in the world…

Tuesday, July 29th was Judging, Trade and Press Day, with over 200 intrepid cheese judges including Debbie Hall-Evans, winner of Channel 4’s The Taste, sampling a record number of entries – a total of 4,443 from 26 countries. The eventual Supreme Champion of the International Cheese Awards 2014 and winner of The National Westminster Cup was announced as Colston Bassett Dairy for their Whole Blue Stilton, with a worthy Reserve Supreme Champion and winner of The Paul Smith-Palmer Memorial Trophy in Jaquin, exhibited by Bradburys, for their Goat Cheese Ash. Waitrose scooped Supreme Retailer for 2014 by winning the most Gold Awards at the show, but we’d like to congratulate all our award winners on a superb standard of entries.

Meanwhile, there was lots of fun to be had elsewhere, with cheese and whiskey pairing sessions hosted by The Little Milk Co. on the Ireland stand showing us that whilst this may not be an obvious combination, Irish artisan cheeses and Irish whiskies are actually perfect partners! The Farmers on Film project, led by the indefatigable Sarah Gayton, took over the Cookery Demonstration Theatre for the morning, promoting the use of smart technology to connect food industry business and producers with the public through video and social media and tapping into some unexpected talents in the Cheese Factor film competition – take a look at Sarah’s @farmersonfilm twitter account to see some of these.

The Trade Lunch completely sold out - with more than 1,100 people packing out the hospitality tent this was the largest dairy hospitality event in the UK. During lunch, six new members were inducted into the International Guilde des Fromagers, a non-profit organisation with more than 6000 members across 33 countries – our chairman Bruce McDonald is the UK ambassador for the Guilde and we were proud to be the venue for the most recent induction.

Wednesday, July 30th was Show Day, and we all breathed a sigh of relief as the sun smiled down on Nantwich and the crowds streamed in. I started my day in the best way possible by having a chat with two of our celebrity chefs, James Martin and Will Holland, in the press tent – James told me how there’s nothing quite like the International Cheese Awards, whilst Will and I got chatting about the wonderful fresh produce available in Saundersfoot, the beautiful setting for his Coast restaurant in South Wales. Later in the day, James and Will both did two fantastic demonstrations in our cookery school along with fellow chefs Jonathan Harrison and Sean Wilson, who was doubly busy at the show as he was also manning the stall for his Saddleworth Cheese Company.

Also attracting huge queues was the Co-operative Say Moo photo booth – all their cows have their own passports, and hundreds of people left the show clutching their own, having been photo-bombed by Betty the cow.  Also very popular were the “Meet the Experts” masterclasses with Adams Foods, where we learned some imaginative new recipes for cheese as well as picking up tips on assembling the perfect Christmas cheeseboard.

All in all, an amazing few days – huge thanks go to everyone who made it possible. The photos you see of the event on our twitter feed @icheeseawards are mainly my own amateur efforts – for a professional take on events then have a look at the official ICA2014 gallery here:

See you all next year for ICA2015!