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.