The 29th annual World Cheese Awards, organised by the Guild of Fine Food is open from entries from 17 August – 11 October.
The awards ceremony will take place in San Sebastian from 16 – 18 November 2016, supported by Artzai Gazta and the Basque Country Government, and will be the showpiece event at the inaugural International Cheese Festival.
The largest single cheese competition in the world, the 2015 event attracted 2,727 entries from over 25 countries, which were judged by 250 experts from across the world.
In 2016, more than 1000 cheeses are expected to be entered.
Open to consumers and tourists as well as food professionals, buyers and retailers, the event will showcase cheeses from more than 30 countries to a 250 judges from around the world, including international buyers, retailers, writers and cheesemakers.
Judges work in teams of four, identifying cheeses worthy of bronze, silver or gold and one exceptional cheese as the ‘Super Gold’.
A final 60 cheeses are then judged a second time by a Jury of 16 internationally recognised experts, who each select a cheese to champion in the final round of judging.
The jury, representing all four corners of the globe, then debate the final 16 in front of a live audience to choose the World Champion Cheese, announced live on WCA TV.
The event provides an opportunity for small, artisan producers to spotlight their cheese products on a global stage. The entry fee for international cheesemakers is £45 per cheese, and entries can be submitted at www.gff.co.uk/wca.
John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, explained: “Our experts were presented with the mammoth task of judging 2,727 individual cheeses in 2015, but with so much excitement about the awards heading to Europe’s unofficial culinary capital this year, we’re expecting record numbers.
“I can’t think of a better time to be taking the world’s largest cheese-only awards scheme to San Sebastián, as it enjoys its moment as European Capital of Culture. We’re all delighted to be giving cheese such a prominent place in the celebrations, alongside San Sebastián’s world class cuisine, which is only fitting given the exceptional artisan cheese-making of the Basque Country that brought us here in the first place.”
With the World Cheese Awards at its heart, the International Cheese Festival will be held at the Kursaal Congress Centre on San Sebastián’s beachfront.
The event will see cheese professionals come together to discuss dairy industry issues in a conference environment, while consumers will have the opportunity to learn about cheeses from around the world via presentations and talks.
It is expected to raise awareness of local artisan cheese production and help promote the region’s culture, gastronomy and tourism.