2011 Big E Cheese Competition Results
As a newcomer to the North Eastern US, I was excited to be part of the build-up surrounding of one of New England’s largest annual events and cheese competitions, The Big E.
The Big E – otherwise known as the Eastern States Exposition – takes place over a two week period near Springfield in Massachusetts, featuring a vast array of exhibits and shows ranging in theme from Agricultural and food related (including an area for New England Cheesemakers) through to a Circus, Equine competitions and rock concerts plus a whole lot more.
Late last year, the cheese competition organizer, Elena Hovagimian, contacted me to ask if I would like to be one of the judges. I readily accepted, pleased to have the chance to learn more about some of the best that New England has to offer.
Each of the cheesemakers that enters a cheese for the competition earns the right to have a booth at the Exposition, thereby guaranteeing a healthy list of entries. So, last Friday three teams of judges assembled, ably helped by a platoon of cheese volunteers, to assess and judge the entries. Each team consisted of an Aesthetic judge and a Technical judge plus a guest judge. The guest judge (who’s score is not included in the competition) is typically a food enthusiast who is invited to “shadow” the judges, tasting the cheeses with them and generally learning the judging process.
To qualify for entry, cheesemakers must be licensed and located in either Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island or Vermont. This year there were 121 cheeses entered in the competition and the overall standard was very high. Each cheese is judged by class (category) and then the gold medal winners go through to a second round for Best in Show, where the overall winner is determined.
Special congratulations to this year’s winners:
Best in Show
Bonne Bouche – Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery, VT
2nd Runner Up
Pawlet - Consider Bardwell Farm, VT
3rd Runner Up
Bismark - Grafton Village Cheese Co, VT
For a list of all the winning cheeses by class, please click here.