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03rd April, 2017

Becoming an expert cheesemonger is more than just learning about how to cut cheese. It’s about knowing all the cheese varieties, how to care for them and understanding how they are made. The Young Cheesemonger 2017 competition is open to cheesemongers under the age of 30 and is sponsored by Rowcliffe, Britain’s leading direct importer and distributor of fine cheeses to the specialist independent trade.

Cheesemongers who are interested in taking part in the competition can download the entry form here

The entry form consists of a brief history about the entrants’ work in cheese and a response to the following question: ‘You have £20 to shop for a cheeseboard for 6 people – which British cheeses would you buy?’ The closing date for submitting completed entry forms is Wednesday 19 April 2017.

From these entries, judges from the British Cheese Awards committee will select eight finalists to attend the competition on Thursday 1 June 2017 at the Royal Bath & West Show

On the day finalists will take part in three rounds: round one – a Cut & Wrap exercise where they will have to cut and wrap different weights of cheese from whole cheeses by sight with no use of weighing scales; round two – Identification, where contestants will have to taste and identify a number of unmarked cheeses; and round three – where each contestant will take part in a Mastermind-style quiz and give responses to questions asked about British cheese. The winner will be announced later the same day.

The competition is part of the British Cheese Awards 2017, the pre-eminent cheese event in the UK and a great celebration of British cheese. The British Cheese Awards take place on Wednesday 31st May 2017 at the Royal Bath & West Show, Shepton Mallet, Somerset.

Peter Mitchell, chairman of the British Cheese Awards, says: “We’re delighted to welcome this competition back for its second year at the British Cheese Awards thanks to the generous support from Rowcliffe. It’s an important competition for the British cheese industry as it promotes the key role of cheesemongers whilst also engaging with younger generations on the wonderful world of cheese. I’m very much looking forward to reading the entry forms, helping to select the finalists and to watching the competition on the day. ”

Tim Rowcliffe, chairman of Rowcliffe, says: “Two years ago I was judging at the British Cheese Awards and realised that there were many events celebrating the fantastic cheese products, the producers and cheese shops who sell these products. However, there was a clear gap in celebrating the thousands of hard working people who actually cut and wrap these wonderful cheeses in deli counters across the UK.

“For that reason the ‘Young Cheesemonger’ award was created with the focus being on the up and coming talent amongst the younger dedicated people. It’s been long overdue and the inaugural event kicked off last year with great results. As Britain’s foremost distributor of award winning cheese from small producers, I feel this craft needs to be kept alive! After all they are the ones who wave the flag for the products, the producers, the stores and the industry.”

Last year’s winner was Mihaela Mercasi, deli manager of the House of Bruar in Blair Atholl, Perthshire. She says: “I never thought I would win such an honour, let alone being part of an event as prestigious as the British Cheese Awards. Winning this award was the result of a lot of hard work and equally of the people who believed in me and offered their full support. My achievement has helped me do my job with confidence and build strong relationships with our customers and suppliers.

“I remember having a lot of fun during the competition, I had the chance to meet other cheesemongers, share ideas and information and also learn new things. I would encourage all young cheesemongers to participate in the Young Cheesemonger competition as it will challenge them to improve their knowledge, become determined and be hungry for success.

“My participation in the competition was an experience to remember, everyone was very friendly and professional, and I still have the great feeling of being part of an amazing family where one is respected and valued for their work.”

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