Fledgling cheesemakers scoop top prize at national cheese awards

Judges awarded the top accolade at this year’s Artisan Cheese Awards to a blue cheese but it wasn’t Stilton on this occasion.

By Nick Rennie
Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 6:14 pm
Martin and Hazel Tkalez, of Pevensey Cheese Company, celebrate winning Supreme Champion accolade at the 2022 Artisan Cheese Awards at Melton with their Pevensey Blue
PHOTO Mepics
Martin and Hazel Tkalez, of Pevensey Cheese Company, celebrate winning Supreme Champion accolade at the 2022 Artisan Cheese Awards at Melton with their Pevensey Blue PHOTO Mepics

Supreme Champion at the event, which was held at Melton’s St Mary’s Church, went to Pevensey Blue, made by Pevensey Cheese Company, at Holden Farm in East Sussex.

It was a great moment for husband-and-wife, Martin and Hazel Tkalez, who have only been making cheese for two years.

Their brine washed blue cheese, made with pasteurised milk and animal rennet, beat off competition from more than 500 entries from producers throughout the UK and Ireland.

Artisan Cheese Awards judging 2022 SFRS SP Photo Mepics

One of the judges described Pevensey Blue as a soft, creamy blue cheese with a hint of sweetness. It also took the award for ‘best English cheese’.

Reserve Supreme Champion was Ashmore Farmhouse, produced by Cheesemakers of Canterbury, while Bluebell Falls was named best small producer for its Bluebell Falls Goats Cheese.

Other winners were: Best Micro Producer – Cheese Bothy (White Laggan); Best Irish Cheese – Velvet Cloud (Rockfield Dairy Rockfield); Best Scottish Cheese – St Andrews Farmhouse (Cheese Anster); Best Welsh Cheese – Cheese Cosyn (Cymru Brefu Bach).

The awards ceremony coincided with the two-day Artisan Cheese Fair, at Melton’s livestock market, at the weekend, which drew thousands of visitors with many producers reporting record sales.

Artisan Cheese Awards judging 2022 SFRS SP Photo Mepics

Organiser, Matthew O’Callaghan, told the Melton Times: “It was great to have the cheese fair back at its usual time in the year.

"We had printed an extra thousand tickets in case and even then we had to use temporary tickets for the additional numbers, with 7,500 attending in all.”

Mr O’Callaghan added: “We’d the highest number of cheese makers since the start of the pandemic and most had sold out by the Sunday afternoon, along with a number of the other traders who were surprised by how busy it was and how eager people were to spend on quality products.

"This bodes well for our future events in Melton this year.”

Martin and Hazel Tkalez, of Pevensey Cheese Company, celebrate winning Supreme Champion accolade at the 2022 Artisan Cheese Awards at Melton with their Pevensey Blue PHOTO Mepics SFRS SP

Next up for Melton’s foodie events is PieFest on August 6 and 7, followed by East Midlands Food Festival (October 1-2) and 19-20 Nov ChocFest (November 19-20).

Artisan Cheese Awards judging 2022 SFRS SP Photo Mepics