Entries can now be submitted for the 2012 Irish Cheese Awards which will take place at SHOP

The Irish Cheese Awards are now open for entry. The Awards, run by SHOP in association with Sheridans Cheesemongers, are open to all cheese producers in Ireland to enter the third Irish Cheese Awards, which take place this autumn at SHOP – Ireland’s retail, food, drink and hospitality event, running from 25-27 September 2012 at the RDS Simmonscourt, Dublin.

This year, the awards are set to be even bigger with the integration of the Sheila Broderick Memorial National Farmhouse Cheese Competition, which traditionally took place at Listowel Food Fair. For the first time, the Sheila Broderick Memorial Trophy will be presented to the Supreme Champion of the Irish Cheese Awards by her daughter Eilish, adding additional prestige to the event for cheese producers.

Kevin Sheridan from Sheridans Cheesemongers explains: “There is a phenomenal amount of interest in Irish farmhouse cheese and this is reflected in the growth of the sector, both at home and abroad. Irish agriculture is one of our truly good news stories and the success of Irish cheese reflects how well premium quality driven produce is received here in Ireland and in export markets. The Irish Cheese Awards seek to honour our cheese makers for the hard work and creativity they put in to their products.”

Open to Irish farmhouse cheese makers and dairies, this year the organisers are expecting to surpass the 146 entries in 2011, and have added two additional categories to reflect the growing market of speciality cheeses in Ireland. ‘Soft Cheese with Flavour Added’ and the division of the ‘Goat’s Milk’ category into ‘Under Two Months’ and ‘Over Two Months’ has seen the award categories grow from 14 to 16. Other categories include ‘Sheep’s Milk Cheese’, ‘Blue Cheese’, ‘Mature’ and ‘Bloomy Rind’ with the “big cheese” at the event being crowned ‘Supreme Champion’.

Speaking about the benefits for cheese makers of entering the competition, Elisabeth Ryan from Sheridans Cheesemongers says: “A category win at the Irish Cheese Awards really raises the profile of a cheese. This is now the third year of the awards and consumers can see the correlation between the quality of the product and the distinctive gold medal award on the packaging.”

County Galway producer, Marion Roeleveld of Killeen Farmhouse, scooped the Supreme Cheese accolade in 2011 with her Killeen Goat Mature cheese. Speaking of her 2011 win, Marion said:
“To be crowned the Supreme Cheese at the Irish Cheese Awards at SHOP 2011 was a real honour and recognition for the hard work that we’ve put into making Killeen Goat Mature. This win had a hugely positive impact for our business, and opened doors to lots of new customers who appreciate high quality Irish cheese."  Entries are now open for the Irish Cheese Awards, and the organisers are hoping to encourage as many producers as possible to take part in this year’s event.

The entry form is available to download at www.easyFairs.com/SHOP and producers are welcome to submit more than one cheese. Cheeses will be judged on their: flavour & aroma; body & texture; and colour and overall appearance. The judging panel will be made up of leading and independent experts from the industry, including Ross Lewis from Chapter One and acclaimed cheese author Patricia Nicholson; and entries must be submitted by 31 August 2012.

Matt Benyon, Managing Director of easyFairs in Ireland & the UK, which organises the Irish Cheese Awards and the SHOP exhibition, concludes: “The Irish Cheese Awards is one the highlights of SHOP, and attracts many visitors who travel specifically to sample the cheeses and find out which producer will be the next ‘big cheese’. We are delighted not only to be working once again with Sheridans, which expertly organises the awards and the judging, but also incorporating the prestigious Sheila Broderick Memorial Trophy into the Cheese Awards.”

SHOP, a dedicated trade show for the retail, food, drink and hospitality sectors, takes place from 25-27 September 2012, at the RDS Simmonscourt. For further information or to register for free entry to the exhibition, please log onto www.easyFairs.com/SHOP, find SHOP on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SHOPDublin or via Twitter at SHOP_2012.