This is the eighth year for the cheese competition at the Eastern States Exposition (known as the Big E). The Big E starts in September, but the judging for the competition is always in August. (If this feels like deja-vu to you, it’s because I posted articles about this competition in 2014 (click here) and in 2016 (click here).)
I helped out with the judging, along with a whole crew of dedicated volunteers. Last year and this year, I was a steward. There were 4 of us, each assigned to a table of 2 judges. One was a “technical” judge and the other was “aesthetic.” Our job was to give the judges at our tables anything they needed throughout the day. We replenished their palette cleansers, replaced their spit cups, and cleaned their knives between cheeses.
The judging segment of any cheese competition is always the most important. Some cheese makers submit their entries because they will potentially sell more blue ribbon cheeses than any others. (The general public tends to leave it up to the experts to tell them which cheeses to buy.) Others submit their cheeses because of the written evaluations they receive, whether their cheese wins prizes or not.
Every cheese is tasted and analysed by judges who have qualifications “you read about.” (In fact, you can read about them at the Big E website (click here).) Every cheese submitted gets 2 evaluations-one from each of the judges who scored it. This is a great opportunity for licensed cheese makers to get feedback from the experts.
The location was lovely
Our fearless leaders took charge
Preparing the Room
Here come the judges…
They spent the entire day tasting cheese. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Stewards for the judges
Behind the scene and out of sight, the pace was very fast
The cheeses with the highest number of points were put together for one last score