Cheese awards centre stage at Bath & West festival

THE highlight of this year’s inaugural Bath & West Food and Drink Festival, at the show ground near Shepton Mallet over the weekend 23rd and 24th March, will be the British Cheese Awards. About 600 British cheeses will be judged on Friday 22nd, in the 20th annual edition of the awards, one of the largest ever showcases of British cheese.

Among this year’s entries from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales are 25 new cheeses, which have been launched since the last awards. In all, there are 76 Cheddars, 42 territorial cheeses, 48 blue cheeses, 36 soft white, 62 added flavour, 19 fresh cheeses and 53 modern cheeses, from 81 producers.

All cheese entries will be judged in a single day by a 63-strong judging panel, including cheesemakers, cheesemongers, cheese experts, buyers and commentators. In round one, the cheeses will be judged in individual classes and the panel will decide on the Gold, Silver and Bronze award winners. The Gold winners will be judged again to identify the category winners. Following a final round of judging with the category winners, the 2024 Supreme Champion will be selected and revealed during the British Cheese Awards dinner on the Friday evening.

Throughout the weekend, visitors to the Bath & West Food & Drink Festival will be able to view the British Cheese Awards judging hall and even sample some of the trophy winners, as they enjoy a celebration of the South West’s farmers, producers and purveyors. Away from the judging area, the festival will also feature demonstrations and presentations on everything from pairings and baking to cooking on a budget.

The line up for the inaugural Food & Drink Festival will include TV presenter and Great British Bake Off contestant, Briony May Williams, food & drink broadcaster Nigel Barden and comedian George Egg. The Farmhouse Tavern will showcase beverages of all kinds, and the Little Foodies zone will keep families entertained, while anyone wandering around the food and drink stands will also encounter the comedic Liver Cottage Mobile Kitchen, creating fusion food on the move.

Photograph shows Devon cheesemaker Mary Quicke with Catherine Mead of Lynher Dairies in Cornwall.