2013 United States Championship Cheese Contest
On March 12-13, the United States Champion Cheese trophy joins four Lombardi tro- phies at Lambeau Field in Green Bay Wisconsin.
Dairy’s grandest game, the United States Championship Cheese Contest, will fill the Atri- um at Lambeau with a record 1,702 contest entries all vying to be named U.S. Champion.
Cheesemakers and buttermakers in 30 states have submitted their finest products to this year’s Contest – the largest dairy product competition in U.S. history. Over two days, 38 experts will examine, sniff and taste more than 32,000 pounds of cheese and butter.
The United States Championship Cheese Contest is free and open to the public. In ad- dition to watching these tasting experts in action, visitors to Lambeau Field can sample award winning cheeses from Wisconsin.
This competition is rooted in more than 120 years of history, beginning when Wiscon- sin Cheese Makers Association held it first cheese contest in 1891. In recent years, the United States Championship Cheese Contest has flourished, more than doubling in size (141 percent growth) since 2001.
“The Contest continues to grow, reflecting an explosion of new cheeses across the U.S. and consumers’ desire for new, adventurous cheese varieties and flavors,” said John Um- hoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, the event host.
In all, 225 locations, from farmstead cheese sites to commercial cheese and butter fa- cilities entered products this year, with 20 cheese or butter maker locations entering the Contest for the first time.
This competition, through decades of refinement, has set the standard worldwide for professional, objective evaluation of cheese and butter, according to Robert Aschebrock, Chief Judge for WCMA’s Championship Cheese Contests. “We select judges – cheese buyers, food scientists and licensed graders – from across the United States to evaluate entries on a strict numeric system,” Aschebrock said. Before his volunteer service to the Contest, Mr. Aschebrock was a career cheese and butter grader with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Cheese and butter varieties entered in the Contest are divided into ‘classes’ such as Aged Ched- dar, Blue-Veined Cheese and Soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses. The 2013 Contest will feature the largest class list ever with a total of 80 classes for cheese and 2 classes for butter.
On March 12 and 13, expert judges will work in teams of two, selecting gold medalists in each class. These gold medal cheeses then compete in a final, Championship Round to determine one U.S. Champion Cheese and two runners-up.
The Championship Round will convene Wednesday evening, March 13 for the first time ever, before a live audience. The public is invited to observe the judging, while enjoying cheese from the Contest at a ticketed charity event to benefit a local food pantry.
The Champion Cheese Charity Event – A Benefit for Paul’s Pantry takes place from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. in the Legends Club Room at Lambeau Field. Cheese lovers will meet cheese ex- perts from across the U.S., taste cheese Contest entries and witness the final round of judging to determine the 2013 United States Champion Cheese. Tickets are $25 and are available at www. paulspantry.org.
Cheese lovers will find Contest images and real-time results from the competition at www.uschampioncheese.org.
The Contest gained slightly over 100 entries this year, reflecting broad growth in types of cheese produced in the United States. “This year, we saw an increase in Hispanic-style cheeses, with entries in the Hispanic melting cheese category doubling and the new class of Hard Hispanic Cheeses gaining 12 entries,” said Umhoefer. “For the first time in many years, we also saw a large jump in the number of butter entries,” Umhoefer added.
WCMA added new classes for smoked cheeses, both provolone and gouda, which gathered a toal of 29 entries for these classes.
The following states have submitted entries to the 2013 United States Championship Cheese Con- test: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.