Clean milk helps Barrys Bay cheesemakers win big haul of medals

March 3, 2016 –

Barrys Bay cheesemakers are praising the “clean milk” supplied by a Motukarara dairy farming couple after winning a big haul of medals at the New Zealand Champions of Cheese awards.

Owners Mike and Catherine Carey, of Barrys Bay Cheese, took home 19 medals, including five gold medals for their cheese. The big brands of Fonterra and Goodman Fielder won more medals overall, but the small family-owned cheese making operation at Barrys Bay won the most medals for a single factory site.

Mike Carey said they enjoyed working with Banks Peninsula farmers Simon and Myra Manson who supplied the milk which went into their cheese.

“Certainly getting their milk which is of consistent high quality and very clean gives us a great raw material to work with. … They bring their team to the factory to understand what we do and we love the milk their largely grass fed cows produce.”

He said the top medal performance was satisfying as it showed their techniques were working and this was being recognised by international judges.

They were extremely proud to get their Maasdam – their signature cheese – to gold standard, he said.

“We are particularly pleased because it reflects the effort put in by our small cheese making team of Pete Corbitt and Craig Church. Every one of our Dutch style wheel cheeses we entered won gold.”

The 19 medal haul of five golds, five silvers and nine bronzes surpasses the gold-less 15 medals they won last year. Gold medals were received for their aged gouda, aged edam, maasdam, edam and gouda.

The Careys won the champion of champion cheese with their gouda in 2014. Their team of 12 staff processes 600,000 litres of milk a year into cheese.

The Careys took over the historic peninsula factory 10 years ago. They believe they have been able to lift the cheeses to award winning standard over this period because of the work they did to understand what makes a great cheese and by putting those lessons into practise.

Carey said co-operating with other cheese makers helped them to lift their game and this was being recognised by repeat business from shoppers supporting their cheeses.

Another Canterbury cheesemonger, Karikaas, won five golds and a silver at the awards.

West Coast dairy co-operative, Westland Milk products won the champion butter at the awards with their Westgold butter which has been sold internationally and will be made available to the domestic market next week.


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Cheese tourists could be attracted by South Island factory tours, academic says

November 9, 2015 –

Opening farms and factories to cheese-lovers could attract tourists on to South Island food trails.

Canterbury and South Island cheese merchants could benefit from cheese’s “pulling power”, doctoral candidate Francesc Fuste Forne says.

Forne, from University of Girona in Spain, has ended six months at Lincoln University where he has compared New Zealand’s cheese tourism to rural Catalonia.

Tourists might visit New Zealand for up to 20 days but not visit dairy farms or factories to see the link between milk and cheese-making, he said.

People wanted a sense of local culture and cheese was “part of the identity of South Island landscapes”, he said.

Tastings, cheese-making displays and cheesemonger stories could give extra value to cheese production and reinforce the “100-per-cent Canterbury made” brand, Forne said.

Lincoln University doctoral exchange student Francesc Fuste Forne sees cheese as a way to promote “100-per-cent Canterbury” food production.

Farmers markets were selling most of Canterbury’s craft cheese, as well as butter, yoghurt or milk itself. Cheese attracted tourists in the North Island at spots like Puhoi Valley Cafe and Cheese Store in Auckland.

The South Island had some of the best outlets, such as Barrys Bay Cheese on Banks Peninsula and Gibbston Valley Cheese in Queenstown, he said.

Canterbury food producers had much to offer. Food tourism was mainly wine-based but there was growing interest in unfamiliar products and novel cooking methods, such as hangi.

Cheese was being sold alongside hazelnuts, wine and berries.

Barrys Bay Cheese owner Mike Carey said it seemed ever since the “food miles” carbon footprint debate, people were more interested in how food was made and where it originated.

His customers ranged from simply curious to “enormously knowledgeable”. The shop was open year-round and it noticeable how people associated it with previous trips to the peninsula.

The company originated in the late 1900s and the existing factory was built in 1852.  Carey had run it for 10 years and felt like a “guardian” of cheesemaking in the area.

Some of his trade was from Akaroa cruise ships, although he had to tell some customers the shop was too far for a walk.

Forne said farmers markets had a key role in reaching market niches, exploring new tastes and selling to locals and visitors. Projects such as the Canterbury food and wine trails had been adding to this entrepreneurship, he said.

Traditional rural businesses needed to be productive enough to compete in markets that had increasing amounts of “authentic local produce”.

Catalonia did not market its cheese particularly well. Farm retailers usually needed a government ‘region of origin’ certificate to do well, he said.


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Cheese whiz!

June 30, 2015 – Craig Church from Barrys Bay Cheese takes out Primary ITO Aspiring Cheesemaker award

The Primary ITO Aspiring Cheesemaker award at the national NZ Champions of Cheese Awards is the “first national award” that Barrys Bay cheesemaker Craig Church has ever won.

“It felt really good!!” Craig explains, saying that he only jotted down some speech notes that night.

A cheesemaker at Barrys Bay Cheese on Banks Peninsula, Craig was supported by Head Cheesemaker Peter Corbett as well as owners Mike and Catherine Carey and Sales and Marketing coordinator Kelsey Lovett from the Barrys Bay team during the evening.

Craig enjoys cheesemaking because he likes creating things. “There’s a bit of chemistry behind it,” Craig explains. “Different temperatures and acids affect the cheese. Milk powder is also used to standardise different varieties of cheeses.”

However, Craig says the best thing about his job is the people.

“I appreciate working very closely with our Head Cheesemaker, Pete. His willingness to pass on knowledge keeps me learning and has made my time at Barrys Bay Cheese really enjoyable. It’s a satisfying job because each make is slightly different depending on the variety of cheese we are producing, and in the end, you can see and taste your creation!”
Moving up the ranks within Barrys Bay, Craig started out in the packing room, assisted with orders and has now been working as a cheesemaker for four years full time.

Having sampled other careers from forestry, through to labouring and building, Craig feels like he has now found his true calling and the Aspiring Cheesemaker award is the cheese on top!
As for the future, Primary ITO is developing an apprenticeship scheme for the cheesemaking industry that will encompass four levels of training. The Level 2 Entry qualification will cover the generic food processing industry, giving an introduction into the different food processing avenues. The Level 3 and 4 qualifications, and the Level 5 components, will be specific to the cheesemaking industry. The ITO plans to launch these new qualifications this year.
For more information or to source images of Craig or Barrys Bay Cheese, or for further information about Primary ITO, please contact:

Anna Lindsay, Primary ITO Marketing Communications Adviser [email protected] or call (04) 382 9626.


Barrys Bay Cheese wins New Zealand’s supreme award

March 7, 2014 –

Storms may have lashed Banks Peninsula over the last week with power blackouts common, but the spotlight was on Barrys Bay Cheese as it took out 11 medals including six golds and the coveted Countdown Champion of Champions Award at the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.

The hand-crafted Aged Gouda was described by judges as boasting tropical fruit flavours and was a favourite with the entire panel. Barrys Bay also won golds for its Maasdam, Peppered Havarti, Gouda, Aged Gouda, Gruyere and Nettle Gouda.

The judging panel was made up of 28 of the country’s most experienced cheese connoisseurs and included over 430 New Zealand specialty cheeses. Judge Smith rated New Zealand cheese as “ranking with the best in the world, with certain styles indisputably world class.”

Mike and Catherine Carey, who bought Barrys Bay Cheese in 2005, said they were stunned and thrilled at the win.

“Traditionally Barrys Bay has been English cheddar makers but the demand for Dutch-style cheese had led us down a path of Dutch-style cheesemaking. We have been focusing on making improvements to our Gouda make and to that end have been liaising with North Island Dutch cheesemakers.

“This is a great credit to all our staff. At the peak of our production season we have up to 10 staff. Due to the isolated location of our factory and the difficulty in finding fully trained traditional cheesemakers our team are largely self-taught.

“Pete Corbitt, our head cheesemaker, must take much credit for the overall award. He has spent time meeting with other Dutch cheese makers around New Zealand and hosting them here at Barrys Bay, learning the art of producing a quality Gouda,” Catherine said.

The Careys are not your normal cheese makers, having come from the electronics and motor vehicle assembly sectors.

“It has been a lot of hard work and a massively steep learning curve but our passion for the product kept us going. The recognition through these awards is hugely satisfying,” she said.

Barrys Bay Cheese produced its first cheddar in 1895 and was one of nine small, family-owned dairy co-operatives dotted around Banks Peninsula. Barrys Bay milk comes from local cows and they still make a range of handcrafted cheeses the traditional way, using milk from grass-fed, Friesian cows. They are the only New Zealand cheese maker still making cheddar using the original cheddaring process.

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