Judging & Competition News-February 2016

This is an exciting time of year for those of us on the Judging & Competition (J&C) Committee. We are just over a month away from announcing our annual Call for Entries for the 2016 J&C in Des Moines, Iowa, which means that we’ve already put a half year’s work into the program. We’ve established the calendar and timeline for entries, and we are well underway with our online entry database updates. The Receiving & Logistics sub-committee is meeting to discuss the nuances of the Iowa Events Center so that we can choreograph our receiving and judging days. And, our Category Review sub-committee has finished its annual tradition of updating the 2016 Category List for clarity, consistency, and completeness. While there is much work yet to be accomplished, the Committee is confident that Des Moines will be another outstanding venue and that the 2016 Judging & Competition will be a great success.

There are a handful of key dates that the Committee would like to bring to your attention so that you can be prepared during the next 5 months. Please be sure to mark your calendar with the following important dates:

  • Wednesday, April 6, 2016 : Call for Entries/Online Entry Open
  • Friday, May 13, 2016: Entry Deadline
  • Friday, May 20, 2016: Late Entry Deadline
  • Friday, July 1, 2016: Shipping Materials Available Online

I’d also like to take a moment now to share with you a few of the updates that have been made to the 2016 Category List. As mentioned above, each year we strive for clarity, consistency, and completeness in our program. To that end, we begin our annual review with feedback received from members, as well as trends that we identified during the prior J&C. Our intent is to resolve common questions and to predict new categories based on the innovations of our cheesemaker members. This year, we added three new sub-categories. The updates were made to Category A – Fresh Unripened Cheese and Category H – Italian Type Cheeses. This year, we have moved two sub-categories within Category A. The first is AG – Cottage Cheese, Cream Cheese, Fromage Blanc, Fromage Frais, Mascarpone, Quark and Ricotta – made from goat’s milk and the second is AS – Cottage Cheese, Cream Cheese, Fromage Blanc, Fromage Frais, Mascarpone, Quark and Ricotta – made from sheep’s, mixed or other milks. In years past, these entries would have been judged in the Fresh Unripened “Open Category.” However, based on feedback regarding these categories and the confusion around the types of entries that should be placed in these categories, the Committee elected to remove these from the “Open Category” and to identify the specific entries that will be allowed into these categories. We hope this change will alleviate any confusion previously experienced and will allow the entries in the categories to be judged consistently and accurately.

The other change we are excited to announce is the addition of sub-category HD – Traditional Regional Italian Cheeses (including but not limited to Mezzo Secco, Asiago Piccante and Fresca, Piave, Montasio, Caciotta, Bra, Ragusano, Fontina, Fontal, Toma, Robiola Natural Rind, etc.) – all milks. With this category, we will ask that if you are using an original (new) name but following a traditional recipe, that you must identify the cheese of origin in the comment field provided at entry. Cheesemakers specializing in these types of cheese have often found themselves wondering where to place their entries, typically ending up in one of the American Made / International Style open sub-categories. The number of entries for these types of cheeses has grown in recent years and we feel it warrants its own sub-category.

While these represent the major changes that were made to the 2016 Category List, please take a minute to review the new category list before completing your entry to ensure that the categories you entered last year are still the best fit for this year.

As always, we look forward to serving you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Michelle Lee at [email protected] or Eliza Wetherill at [email protected].

We are excited to see you and your cheeses in Des Moines!

John Antonelli
ACS Judging & Competition Committee Chair