I traveled to San Francisco in mid-January to visit with friends, network with cheese colleagues, and receive my SECOND Good Food Award for Briar Rose Creamery’s Classic Chevre.  Briar Rose Creamery’s Classic Chevre was singled out as one of the best cheeses in the United States!  We were one of only 15 creameries awarded a medal out of hundreds of entrants.  The Good Food Awards received over 2000 product entries in fourteen categories.  Find the entire list of the 193 winners in all categories  HERE.

What a thrill is was to sit in a seat inside Herbst Theater in San Francisco. You could feel the excitement in the air.  I was surrounded by equally passionate producers of cheese, salami, jam, chocolate, smoked salmon, pecan oil, honey, beer, gin, coffee, hot sauce, and pickles. 

I sat beside fellow cheesemakers, some of whom I knew, others were new to me. On the stage in front of us were activists, chefs, and farmers.  One winner from each category shared their story about how they make their award-winning product.  Keynote speaker Winona LaDuke inspired us with her speech about food as a bridge between all people and how we can come together at the table to share good food and build community. She talked about the Native American legends surrounding wild rice and how certain foods remind us about how fragile our planet is, how we are all linked to the survival of the wild rice habitat, and how we must care for the soil and water from which all things grow.

We went up to the stage as a group to be awarded medals by Alice Waters, Nell Newman, and Winona LaDuke.  Our names were read aloud and all cheese winners lined up behind Allison Hooper, owner of Vermont Creamery and a pioneer in the artisan cheesemaking movement. Allison conveyed her story about cheesemaking in Vermont and building her business.  

The awards ceremony wrapped up with a reception with with food and drinks prepared with the winning products.  My chevre was paired with smoked salmon from Chef Paul Lieggi of Bon Appetit Management Company’s kitchen at the Mount Angel Abbey in Mount Angel, Oregon.  

The Good Food Awards were amazing and I hope we will continue to produce more cheese that stands out in a crowd.

Almost anyone with access to goat milk makes fresh chevre.  It is a very humble cheese, a table cheese, served all over the world.  Our fresh chevre seems to stand out in a crowd. Maybe it’s because I take my time when I make it.  I don’t rush things.  I let the milk ferment over many hours to enhance the depth of flavor that is already in the clean, sweet milk.  I let gravity do the work of draining the curds, letting the texture remain creamy, light, and velvety.  Just enough salt is gently incorporated into the curd to give my fresh chevre a little pop of flavor.  All of this extra effort seems to make my cheese a little bit different, a little bit tastier than other fresh goat cheeses.  

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