How many Cheese Grand Prix finalists have you tasted?

canadian-cheese-grand-prix_halfpagewidthThe 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.

Here are the 2015 finalists:category 1 fresh ch#196C2DE

Fresh Cheese

category 2 fresh pa#196C2EAFresh Pasta Filata

category 3 cheese w#196C2E9Fresh Cheese with grilling properties

category 4 soft che#196C307Soft Cheese with bloomy rind

category 5 soft che#196C2F8Cream-enriched Soft Cheese with bloomy rind

category 6 semi-sof#196C2EFSemi-soft Cheese

category 7 soft wit#196C2F0Washed- or Mixed-Rind Soft Cheese

category 8 semi-sof#196C305Washed- or Mixed-Rind Semi-soft Cheese

category 9 firm che#196C2F2Washed- or Mixed-Rind Firm Cheese

category 10 firm in#196C2DBFirm Cheese (except Cheddar and Gouda)

category 11 swiss 1#196C2ECSwiss-type Cheese

category 12 mozzare#196C2FFMozzarella (Ball, Brick or Cylinder) or Pasta Filata

category 13 ripened#196C2FBBrine-ripened Cheese

category 14 gouda 1#196C302Gouda (aged 1 to 6 months)

category 16 gouda 9#196C308Aged Gouda

category 17 extra g#196C2F9Extra Aged Gouda

category 18 blue ch#196C2E7Blue Cheese

category 19 flavour#196C2E4Flavoured Cheese with added non-particulate flavourings (except smoked cheese)

category 20 smoked #196C313Smoked Cheese

category 21 flavour#196C2F5Flavoured Cheese with added particulate solids and flavourings

category 20 smoked #196C313Mild Cheddar (aged 3 months)

category 23 medium #196C2F6Medium Cheddar (aged 4 to 9 months)

category 24 cheddar#196C2F3Old Cheddar (aged from 9 months to a year)

category 25 cheddar#196C2FCAged Cheddar (1 to 3 years)

category 26 cheddar#196C304Aged Cheddar (more than 3 years)

category 27 fromage#196C2DDFarmhouse Cheese

category 28 fromage#196C301Organic Cheese

Typically, many of the finalists and winners are available for sampling and purchase at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, this year taking place June 6-7 at Picton Fairgrounds in the heart of Ontario’s Prince Edward County, just south of Belleville in Bay of Quinte Region, near spectacular Sandbanks Provincial Park.


Jean Morin wins again with Louis d’Or and Pionnier

Louis d'Or.
Louis d’Or.

Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère is Grand Champion twice over at this year’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.

His Louis d’Or is Grand Champion in the cow’s milk variety cheese class. Pionnier, made with a blend of cow’s and sheep’s milk in collaboration with Marie-Chantal Houde of Fromagerie Nouvelle France, is Grand Champion in the goat and sheep milk variety cheese class.

Marie-Chantal Houde and Jean Morin with Pionnier.
Marie-Chantal Houde and Jean Morin with Pionnier.

The 18-month Farmstead Gouda made by Adam van Bergejik of Mountainoak Cheese is Reserve Grand Champion in cow milk.

Adam van Bergejik.
Adam van Bergejik.

Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar made by Pieter van Oudenaren of Lenberg Farms/Mariposa Dairy is Reserve Grand Champion in goat and sheep milk.

Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar.
Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar.

Grand Champion in cheddar cheese is Black Diamond Mild Cheddar made by Parmalat Canada, now part of Groupe Lactalis, the world’s largest dairy producer. Parmalat dominated all cheddar categories except:

Click here for complete results.





Mountainoak Cheese grand opening September 15

Farmstead Gouda in the aging room at Mountainoak Cheese which has its grand opening on September 15. Click on any image at for an enlarged view.

Adam and Hannie van Bergeijk will see their dream come true this Saturday, September 15, with the official opening of Mountainoak Cheese in New Hamburg, Ontario. For them, it’s the culmination of many years of hard work and planning. For the cheese enthusiasts, it could well be the beginning of a love affair with their superb  Farmstead Gouda cheeses.

Adam and Hannie’s passion for making Gouda cheese started more than 30 years ago. In 1976, they took over the dairy farm run by Adam’s parents near the town of Spijkkernisse in their native Holland. From the beginning, they had an interest in making artisan cheese. The southwest area of Holland they lived in has a long and illustrious history of cheesemaking, so it was not hard to find willing teachers. In 1981, they both attended the renowned cheesemaker school in nearby Gouda, a center of cheesemaking expertise for more than 300 years. Since that time, Adam has passed on his knowledge to others as well, training students from countries throughout Europe in the art of making high quality Gouda cheeses.

Annie and Adam van Bergeijk ‘s dream of cheesemaking in Canada has come true.

In Holland, the van Bergeijks set up a small cheese plant right on their dairy farm. Their prize-winning cheeses were very popular with local consumers, and by the 1990s they were selling more than half the milk from their 60 cows as Farmstead Gouda direct to the public. But with two sons and a daughter, all interested in farming, there was little opportunity to grow as dairy farmers in the Netherlands.

In search of a brighter future for their children, Adam and Hannie sold the dairy and emigrated to Canada in 1996. They purchased land in Wilmot Township just east of the village of Haysville and built a modern freestall barn to provide comfortable housing for their new dairy herd. Since on-farm artisan cheese making was virtually unknown in Ontario, the van Bergeijks planned to focus on dairy farming only. Nevertheless, some of their original cheesemaking equipment found its way into the container destined for their new homeland, and it wasn’t long before they were making cheese for their own consumption.

Now that married sons Arjo and his wife Baukje on the home farm and John and his wife Angela on a second dairy nearby have taken over primary responsibility for the dairy operation, Adam and Hannie’s passion to make cheese is blooming once more. With the encouragement of family, friends and neighbours, they have embarked on a new cheesemaking adventure.

Mountainoak Cheese is a state-of-the-art operation but all the key steps in cheesemaking are still done by hand by an artisan craftsman. Here, Adam fills forms with blocks of Gouda-to-be.

Mountainoak Cheese is a state-of-the-art processing plant that allows the van Bergeijks to continue the tradition of great tasting high quality Gouda-style cheeses made with high quality fresh milk from their own dairy cows. Three days a week, right after the morning milking is completed, fresh milk from their herd of  purebred Holsteins is pumped directly over to the cheese plant to begin the process. Using their 30 years experience and traditional Dutch recipes, the van Bergeijks have a reputation for making superb-quality Farmstead Gouda cheese. They also offer very interesting variations on spiced Gouda, using traditional cumin as well as black pepper, mustard seed, nettles and even gourmet black truffles.

To those unfamiliar with the Dutch language, “Mountainoak” may seem like an odd name for a local cheese produced in Waterloo County.  There is no particular abundance of oaks on the farm, and certainly there are no mountains anywhere nearby either. A literal translation from Dutch to English of the family name “van Bergeijk”, would be “from the mountain oak.” Coming to a new land and eager to embrace the English language, they chose “Mountainoak Farms” as the name of their dairy. When their dream to make cheese in Canada became a reality, it just made sense that fresh Mountainoak milk should be made into high quality, all-natural, Mountainoak cheese.

The grand-opening celebration on September 15 will be held from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at the farm, 4 kilometres south of Baden, just west of Wilmot Centre Road. The address is 3165 Huron Road, New Hamburg. The day will feature cheese sampling, self-guided tours of the processing plant, and information on how cheese is made. There is an official opening ceremony at 11:00 a.m., and a complimentary lunch including ice cream at noon. While all refreshments are complimentary, in light of the recent hurricane damage in Haiti, there will be opportunity to make a freewill donation to “Mission to Haiti Canada” at the event.

For more information and directions to the farm, visit the website at

—Jack Rodenburg of Dairy Logix