Gisborne cheeses win four medals

Cutting it with the big cheeses.

Cutting it with the big cheeses.

Gisborne’s Waimata Cheese has won four medals at the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemaker Awards — confirming its position as one of the best cheesemakers in the country. Marketing and assistant general manager, Kelly Thorpe, is pictured with the medal-winning cheeses and says she and the team at Waimata are thrilled to have received four medals. Their chilli haloumi won a gold medal and the traditional blue cheese won a silver medal, as did their traditional camembert and feta in brine. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

Gisborne’s Waimata Cheese has won a gold and three silver medals at the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemaker Awards, confirming its position as one of the country’s best cheesemakers.

The gold medal was awarded to the Waimata Cheese chilli haloumi, introduced as part of the company’s range in 2013.

The Waimata Cheese traditional blue cheese won a silver medal, as did their traditional camembert and feta in brine.

Marketing and assistant general manager Kelly Thorpe and the rest of the Waimata Cheese team were thrilled with the result.

“It is no simple feat to be awarded medals, as judging is tough and the calibre of cheeses is high,” she said.

This is the largest and most comprehensive form of recognition for the specialist cheese industry, and international master judge Russell Smith, from Australia, said the quality of New Zealand-made cheese had never been better.

Comments on the gold medal-winning haloumi were that the cheese was “very good and had an appealing balance of salt, buttery flavour and chilli”.

Judges said the chilli hit was just right and the texture had a nice squeaky feel.

The New Zealand Specialist Cheesemaker Association annual awards attracted more than 50 New Zealand Cheese producers.

Family-owned and operated

Waimata Cheese is a family-owned and operated company involved in every aspect of the process.

The family grows the grass, milks the cows and is responsible for creating and distributing the cheese.

Waimata Cheese was created in 1994 by Carol and Rick Thorpe and the business is now multigenerational, with son Elm working as technical manager and his wife Kelly working on the marketing and general operations side of the business.

The company predominantly produces white mould cheeses, though is moving towards more specialised cheeses, including adding sheep’s milk cheeses to their range later this year.

Mrs Thorpe said they had been trialling sheep’s milk cheeses last year, and these had been available for purchase at the Gisborne Farmers Market.

“Elm and I have been selling cheese at the Farmer’s Market for the past 11 years, and we find it’s a great way to meet customers, introduce new cheeses and receive valuable feedback.”

Waimata Cheese will produce a sheep’s milk blue, feta and manchego which is a hard cheese that originated from the Manchego sheep breed in Spain.

The new sheep’s milk cheeses are easier on the digestive system, meaning they are better tolerated by lactose-intolerant cheese lovers.

“The cheeses taste great and milking sheep is more sustainable and easier on the environment.”

Waimata Cheese is available at supermarkets nationwide. The company distributes their products direct to store, through distributors and online through Gisborne Gourmet.

Gisborne’s Waimata Cheese has won a gold and three silver medals at the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemaker Awards, confirming its position as one of the country’s best cheesemakers.

The gold medal was awarded to the Waimata Cheese chilli haloumi, introduced as part of the company’s range in 2013.

The Waimata Cheese traditional blue cheese won a silver medal, as did their traditional camembert and feta in brine.

Marketing and assistant general manager Kelly Thorpe and the rest of the Waimata Cheese team were thrilled with the result.

“It is no simple feat to be awarded medals, as judging is tough and the calibre of cheeses is high,” she said.

This is the largest and most comprehensive form of recognition for the specialist cheese industry, and international master judge Russell Smith, from Australia, said the quality of New Zealand-made cheese had never been better.

Comments on the gold medal-winning haloumi were that the cheese was “very good and had an appealing balance of salt, buttery flavour and chilli”.

Judges said the chilli hit was just right and the texture had a nice squeaky feel.

The New Zealand Specialist Cheesemaker Association annual awards attracted more than 50 New Zealand Cheese producers.

Family-owned and operated

Waimata Cheese is a family-owned and operated company involved in every aspect of the process.

The family grows the grass, milks the cows and is responsible for creating and distributing the cheese.

Waimata Cheese was created in 1994 by Carol and Rick Thorpe and the business is now multigenerational, with son Elm working as technical manager and his wife Kelly working on the marketing and general operations side of the business.

The company predominantly produces white mould cheeses, though is moving towards more specialised cheeses, including adding sheep’s milk cheeses to their range later this year.

Mrs Thorpe said they had been trialling sheep’s milk cheeses last year, and these had been available for purchase at the Gisborne Farmers Market.

“Elm and I have been selling cheese at the Farmer’s Market for the past 11 years, and we find it’s a great way to meet customers, introduce new cheeses and receive valuable feedback.”

Waimata Cheese will produce a sheep’s milk blue, feta and manchego which is a hard cheese that originated from the Manchego sheep breed in Spain.

The new sheep’s milk cheeses are easier on the digestive system, meaning they are better tolerated by lactose-intolerant cheese lovers.

“The cheeses taste great and milking sheep is more sustainable and easier on the environment.”

Waimata Cheese is available at supermarkets nationwide. The company distributes their products direct to store, through distributors and online through Gisborne Gourmet.

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