Laliberté is triple crème that will blow your mind and palate. Think aromatic, decadent, with an exquisite hint of mushrooms and wild flowers. It’s made by Jean Morin, cheesemaker extraordinaire, and his équipe in a former Roman Catholic rectory—thus, the name Fromagerie du Presbytère—in Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick two hours east of Montréal.
The milk comes from the family dairy farm across the street from the rectory now creamery. Jean Morin is a fourth-generation dairy farmer, the fifth generation now works the farm, too, with a sixth generation in the toddler phase.
The farmstead cheese took a year and a half to develop and is made with cow’s milk provided by a mix of naturally raised Jerseys and Holsteins.
When asked what the secret is to making award-winning cheese, Morin, answers simply: “Good grass and no silage.” He elaborates: “Happy, healthy cows. It all starts with the milk, and the care we show the cheese as we make it.”
Laliberté was judged Grand Champion at the recent Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. At the most recent Canadian Cheese Awards, it was named Best Bloomy Rind Cheese.
“This cheese truly distinguished itself in texture, taste and overall appearance. Its exquisite aromatic triple cream with its tender bloomy rind encases an unctuous well-balanced flavour with hints of mushroom, pastures and root vegetables,” says Phil Bélanger, Canadian Cheese Grand Prix jury chairman.
Jackie Armet, cheese co-ordinator at Canadian Cheese Awards, spotlights Laliberté “because it is simply delicious. It has so many rich qualities for a soft bloomy rind cheese. Delicate but bold in flavour with a lovely creamy finish and always t
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Jean Morin has been the winningest cheesemaker in Sélection Caseus, the prestigious annual competition for Québec cheese producers, for the past decade.
Fromagerie du Prebystère won Caseus Gold with Bleu d’Élizabeth in 2018, 2013 and 2009, with Louis d’Or in 2012 and 2010, with Taliah in 2016, and with Pionnier, in collaboration with Fromagerie Nouvelle France, in 2017.
This year he struck gold again with Religieuse, a marvelous washed-rind cheese ideally suited for raclette or just plain eating.
Here are winners in the top six categories announced last night in a ceremony in Quebec City:
Louis d’Or, an outstanding Alpine-style cheese made by Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick, Québec, was named the 2018 Cheese of the Year in the biennial Canadian Cheese Awards, the biggest cheese judging and competition in the country.
BEST ATLANTIC CANADA CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE DES PROVINCES ATLANTIQUES
Cows Creamery 3 Year Old Cheddar – Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Biggest cheese competition in Canada
Judging by a jury of 14 cheese experts took place at University of Guelph, Department of Food Science, in February. A total of 117 finalists were selected from the 375 cheeses entered by producers from Newfoundland to British Columbia.
The 2018 Canadian Cheese of the Year and champions in 33 categories were announced at the Awards Ceremony on June 6 at St. Lawrence Market in Toronto followed by an Awards Tasting Gala. The next day, winners were featured at Canadian Cheese Expo for the trade followed by Canada’s first Artisan Cheese Night Market open to the public.
Fifty-six of the 117 nominations went to 22 Québec cheese producers led by Fromagerie La Station, 7 finalists, Laterie Charlevoix, 6, and Fromagerie du Presbystere, 5.
Sixty-one of the 117 nominations went to 23 producers in English-Canada, led by Cows, 12 finalists, Glengarry Fine Cheese, 5, and Amalgamated Dairies, Cross Wind Farm and Mountainoak Cheese, 4 each.
Canadian Cheese Awards is the only pan-Canadian cheese competition open to all milks used in cheesemaking—cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo—with only pure natural cheese accepted for judging. That means no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no modified milk ingredients.
“We aim to honour and celebrate 100% pure natural cheese that has achieved technical excellence and exhibits the highest aesthetic qualities,” says Georgs Kolesnikovs, Awards Chairman.
The biennial Canadian Cheese Awards is produced by Cheese Lover Productions with the support of Loblaw Companies as Marquee Sponsor and Dairy Farmers of Canada as Principal Partner, Cow Milk Cheese.
The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, is on hiatus in 2018 to allow resources to be devoted to the launch of Artisan Cheese Night Market and related events.
In the 19 years that Sélection Caseus, the Québec cheese competition, has been held, no one single cheesemaker has dominated the judging the way Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère did this year.
The indefatigable Morin, in collaboration with Marie-Chantal Houde of Fromagerie Nouvelle France, was awarded the prestigious Caseus Or prize for Le Pionnier, a beautiful Alpine-style cheese made with a blend of cow’s and sheep’s milk.
Le Pionnier also was named Best Blended Milk Cheese and Best Raw Milk Cheese.
Jean Morin was honoured four more times:
Caseus Bronze — Religieuse, a cow’s milk cheese that is an excellent table cheese and perfect for raclette,
Caseus Longaevi — Louis d’Or, 2 years, the multiple-award winner that is Morin’s pride and joy,
Best Semi-Soft Cheese — Religieuse,
Best Bloomy Rind Cheese — Brie Paysan.
In addition to three awards with Pionnier, Marie-Chantal Houde also won with:
Best Sheep Milk Cheese — Zacharie Cloutier, 6 months.
Caseus Silver was awarded to Fromagerie La Station de Compton for Chemin Hatley, an organic farmstead cheese with a distinct floral flavor. It also won Best Cow Milk Cheese, Firm or Hard.
Other Caseus award winners:
Business that processes more than a million litres per year
Cow-milk cheese, Washed, mixed or natural rind
La Fromagerie Alexis de Portneuf Montréal
OKA Frère Alphonse
Agropur coopérative laitière Montérégie
Firm or hard
Fromagerie La Vache à Maillotte Abitibi-Témiscamingue
Le Pleine Lune
Fromagerie DuVillage 1860 Abitibi-Témiscamingue
Business that processes fewer than one million litres per year
Fromagerie Bergeron Chaudière-Appalaches
Interior-ripened with ripening holes
Agropur coopérative laitière Montérégie
Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde Laurentides
Le Fleur St-Michel
La Fromagerie du terroir de Bellechasse Chaudière-Appalaches
Fresh curd cheese
Fromagerie P’tit Plaisir Estrie
Agropur Grand Cheddar
Agropur coopérative laitière Montérégie
Flavoured by smoking, maceration or the addition of favoured ingredients
Cheddar biologique vieilli à la bière noire
Fromagerie Perron Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean
Flavoured by the addition of spices, vegetables, fruit or nuts
Fromage au Village Abitibi-Témiscamingue
Best organic cheese
Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde Laurentides
Each year, Québec’s cheesemakers are invited to submit their best creations in the competition. All cheese makers, both large and small, can enter the race and see the fruit of their labour featured among the best cheeses Québec has to offer.
In 2017, after a rigorous evaluation process, a jury of 25 experts judged and assessed more than 217 cheeses, recognized 24 winning cheeses in as many categories, and awarded the prestigious Caseus Or prize to Le Pionnier, created by La Fromagerie du Presbytère and Fromagerie Nouvelle France.
Sélection Caseus is a registered trademark of the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ). MAPAQ manages the contest through a steering committee made up of partners from Québec’s cheese industry.
When your father is one of Canada’s most renowned chefs, a passion for food and an appreciation for the restaurant industry come naturally. Nile and Jackson Kennedy grew up around the celebrated kitchens of their father, chef Jamie Kennedy, Canada’s first celebrity chef and a pioneer of the local food movement. But being the chef’s sons earned them no special treatment, as they worked their way through various positions within Kennedy’s restaurants.
“We’ve been working with my dad for a really long time now,” said Nile, 22. “We started by going to events and doing small jobs to just get a sense of what he did.”
Nile got his start in the family business at age 17, working in coat check during private events at the Gardiner Museum, where Jamie Kennedy then ran the venue’s fine dining restaurant and catered on-site weddings and other special events.
From there, Nile worked his way up to become an event server at the Gardiner and then an a la carte server at Kennedy’s Gilead Café, the chef’s last Toronto restaurant, which closed its doors in 2015.
Working in his father’s restaurants taught Nile a great deal about the industry and allowed him to spend plenty of quality time with his dad outside the house.
“Working with my Dad has always been great,” said Nile, “It wasn’t really like a typical working relationship. We would be cracking jokes with each other, and it was really positive. I’ve learned a lot working with him.”
For the past two summers, Nile and his brother Jackson, 26, have operated J.K. Fries, a mobile French fry kitchen they run at events and farmers’ markets around Toronto. J.K. Fries offers Chef Kennedy’s signature double-fried French fries, made with local Yukon Gold potatoes, fresh thyme and sea salt. The fries are always made entirely on site, for the freshest, crispiest snack possible.
This summer, J.K. Fries is setting up shop in Prince Edward County, offering its famous fries at events in the region all season long. For Nile and Jackson, this means a break from city life, and a chance to slow down and take a well-deserved break at the Kennedy farm in the County.
“This summer will still be about work, but we also wanted to take a step back, get out of the city and go to our farm,” Nile explained of the move. “We’ll work up there, and also take up any projects and hobbies we’ve really wanted to do. It’s an exploratory summer in that sense and we’ve both been excited about it for a long time.”
The brothers are looking to discover new interests outside the restaurant business, including learning to craft handmade utility knives using wood and metal found around the family farm. With the help of YouTube, they plan to teach themselves to build a forge and try their hands at knife making during their down time.
The Kennedy brothers will bring a special version of the J.K. Fries stand to The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 3-4, with a braised-beef poutine, an artful take on the iconic, indulgent dish that his father made famous when he became the first Canadian chef to introduce poutine on a fine-dining menu.
“It’s an elevated version of the classic Quebecois poutine,” Nile explains. “We use braised, tender beef in a thick, salty, flavourful gravy and in place of cheese curds we’re using an aged cheddar from Monforte Dairy, who make a really nice cow’s milk cheddar.”
Meanwhile, Jamie Kennedy is hosting a fabulous feast at his Prince Edward County Farm on Saturday evening as part of his popular Summer Dinner Series. Award-winning cheesemakers Jean Morin and Marie-Chantal Houde will be among the lucky 55 guests—with their fromage featured on the cheese plate.
When he’s not slinging their much-loved poutine dishes to hungry festival-goers, Nile is eager to explore what’s new at this year’s Festival. He’s attended the past few years both to work and to observe.
“What’s great about the Cheese Festival, especially with all these local producers coming, people can taste all these amazing cheeses and it gives them ideas about what’s possible,” Nile said.
“More and more these days, people are interested in sourcing locally, but they might not realize how much is available and how many varieties are available so close to home. The Festival is great for that.”
Twenty-two category winners at the recent Canadian Cheese Awards, and the Canadian Cheese of the Year, Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, will be in the spotlight. Plus another 100 more artisan and farmstead cheeses from coast to coast.
Clearly, the biggest selection of the best cheeses ever available for sampling and purchase in one place, that’s what cheese lovers will find at the sixth annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton on June 4-5.
Close to 40 Canadian cheese producers, including the crème of the crème of Quebec, will be on hand to share their passion and their stories with thousands of cheese lovers. There’s even an opportunity to socialize with cheesemakers at Raclette Rave, the Saturday evening social highlight of the Festival.
Thanks to St. Albert Cheese Co-op, the first 1,000 ticket holders admitted on Saturday will enjoy a sample package of freshly made cheese curds. Soft and creamy, St. Albert curds have a delightful squeaky sound when chewed. On Sunday, the first 1,000 ticket holders will chowdown on grilled-cheese sandwiches freshly made by competing chefs using a blend of 14 award-winning cheeses. Yes, 14!
Also on Sunday, there is free admission to watch County chefs compete in the Road to Royal Chef Challenge being hosted by Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in conjunction with the Festival.
But there is more to #TGCCF than cheese, in fact, more than 500 foods and beverages are on offer. Included in price of admission: informative cheese seminars presented by Dairy Farmers of Canada, artisan foods galore, fine wine, craft beer, crisp cider, plus a souvenir tote, a souvenir glass, live music, dairy farm animals, food court and FREE parking.
Tickets are sold at the door but buying them online in advance means speedy access to all the deliciousness via the Express Entrance. Admission is $50 per person, seniors, $45. Children under 15 admitted free. Click to order tickets online.
Picton Fairgrounds is located in the heart of Prince Edward County, south of Belleville in Bay of Quinte Region. One hour from Kingston, two hours from Toronto, three hours from Ottawa and New York State, and less than four hours from Montreal.
He wore the same smiling-cow tie he wore at the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, and, again, at the 2015 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix last night, Jean Morin was named Grand Champion—the best of the best in artisan cheesemaking in Canada.
This time the champion cheese is Laliberté, an aromatic triple crème that will blow your mind and palate. Last time the winning cheese was Louis d’Or, another extraordinary cheese made in a former Roman Catholic rectory—thus, the name Fromagerie du Presbytère—in Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick two hours east of Montréal.
Laliberté was also named champion in the Cream-Enriched Soft Cheese with Bloomy Rind category,
Louis d’Or was named champion in Swiss-Type Cheese,
Le Bleu d’Élizabeth was named champion in Blue Cheese.
Clearly, it was an unforgettable evening for Morin and associate cheesemaker Dany Grimard as the Gala of Champions unfolded at Liberty Grand in Toronto, scene of a lavish awards ceremony cum cheese-tasting organized by Dairy Farmers of Canada. DFC has sponsored of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix since launching the biennial competition in 1998 to celebrate the high quality and proud tradition of Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian cow’s milk.
When asked what the secret is to making award-winning cheese, Morin, a fourth-generation dairy farmer, answers simply: “Good grass and no silage.”
Appropriately, smiling cows adorned the tie Morin wore to the 2011 awards presentation and last night, too.
Laliberté was selected as Grand Champion by a jury of Canadian food industry experts from 27 category winners. The Grand Champion and 27 category winners were chosen from a record-setting 268 cheese entries submitted by cheesemakers from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia. The submissions were then narrowed down to 81 finalists by the jury in February.
“From all the excellent cheeses the jury tasted, we found Laliberté to be the stand-out,” said Phil Bélanger, Canadian Cheese Grand Prix jury chairman. “This cheese truly distinguished itself in texture, taste and overall appearance. Its exquisite aromatic triple cream with its tender bloomy rind encases an unctuous well balanced flavour with hints of mushroom, pastures and root vegetables.”
Named after Alfred Laliberté, the famous sculptor born in Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick, the farmstead cheese took a year and a half to develop and is made with cow’s milk provided by a mix of naturally raised Jerseys and Holsteins.
Fromagerie du Presbytère cheeses are distributed by Plaisirs Gourmets and available in cheese shops across Canada.
Laliberté will the featured cheese and Jean Morin the guest of honour at the fifth anniversary Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 6-7 in Picton, Ontario. Many of the Grand Prix winners will also be in the spotlight at what has become the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada representing producers from coast to coast.
The 81 finalists in the 2015 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix have been announced. The prestigious biennial competition sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada saw 268 cheeses submitted in 27 categories.
The winners will be announced April 22 at a Gala of Champions in Toronto.
Quebec, home to the majority of Canada’s cheese producers, dominates the list of 81 finalists with 31 cheeses. Naturally, some of the larger producers have the most finalists: Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser, 7 finalists, Sylvan Star Cheese, 6, and Natural Pastures Cheese Company and Fromagerie du Presbytère, 5.
The competition, open to cheese made exclusively with Canadian cow’s milk, first started in 1998 to promote achievement and innovation in cheesemaking and to spotlight the quality of Canadian milk.
We lower the curtain on 2014 with Vanessa Simmons, respected cheese sommelier at Savvy Company in Ottawa, recalling the 12 Canadian cheeses that made the year memorable for her palate. Check out her tasting notes and make up your shopping list for the next visit to a cheese shop.