The 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix is here, and once again Sylvan Star Cheese is in the running for many categories of cheese.
The Cheese Grand Prix aims to recognize and celebrate the high quality, versatility and great taste of Canadian cheeses which are made with 100% Canadian milk.
Dylan Fath, assistant cheese maker at Sylvan Star Cheese, said it’s nice to be able to put the industry on the map locally.
“Often we are just that faceless rural community, but by producing great quality product we can bring recognition to the area,” said Fath.
Fath explained that Sylvan Star Cheese basically produces three categories of cheese, and then different flavours, ages and spices within each of those categories to create the diversity of cheese which is seen from the company.
The categories which Sylvan Star Cheese is nominated in are flavoured cheese with added particulate solids and flavourings, Gouda, farmhouse cheese, flavoured cheese with added solids and flavourings and flavoured cheese with added non-particulate flavourings.
Fath said the cheese which continues to be entered into the Grand Prix is what he calls their signature cheese.
“Old Grizzly is our three-year-old aged Gouda and it really highlights the capabilities of our expert cheese makers.”
The Cheese Grand Prix is in the finals stage right now after judges tasted all 225 cheeses and named three finalists in each category. There are 20 categories in which cheeses can be eligible.
The winners will be announced April 18 in Montreal.
“For us the big thing [about being a finalist] is to get the recognition. We really focus on quality so to get seen for that is big.”
Fath said one the frustrations with big box stores and companies that produce generic cheeses is surrounding the Gouda category.
“There are certain size and shape specifications that we want to see appreciated so that a traditional cheese is just that. It’s nice that there were enough producers this year to get the category added. It’s kind of like competing in our own category,” said Fath.
He said the fact that the Gouda category had to be added this year speaks to the health of the specialty cheese industry which seems to be growing in Canada.
“This is just a great outlet for us cheese makers to compare ourselves and learn about new trends in cheese and see how we stand against other cheese makers.”
Being local is an added bonus and Fath said it’s a great addition to the community to have such a successful agriculture-based business doing so well.
“It’s great to see a family farm successful in this day and age as they become less and less.”
Fath said he grew up in a farm atmosphere and loves that he was able to find a job in agriculture that allows him to make a living and not just scrape by on a daily basis.
“It’s really important that we work to keep that rural culture alive.”
Sylvan Star Cheese has been winning awards in the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix since 2006 and Fath said he hopes to see this year as another success.