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Recognition .. Petra Kasalova started with the Karikaas Cheese production team early in 2019. Her skills have been recognised in the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.

By ROBYN BRISTOW

Cheesemaker Karikaas has a golden glow following the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.

The Loburn-based business was awarded the only gold medal in the European category at the awards for its maasdam. It was judged the best European-style cheese.

The champion cheese, which was also awarded the European Trophy, was crafted by new Karikaas cheesemaker Petra Kasalova and head cheesemaker Bryar Enerson. It was made in December 2019.

Maasdam has a distinctive flavour and has a distinctive appearance.

It is the cheese that is in every cartoon where mice and cheese are drawn together lovely big holes.

Karikaas manager Di Hawkins says Petra, who joined the production team early in 2019, also made the gold-medal-winning Pepper cheese.

“To have achieved such excellence in cheesemaking over that period of time speaks volumes for her dedication and skill,” Di says.

The Karikaas team also won silver medals for all the Karikaas standard cheeses gouda and leyden/cumin gouda, and pumahana.

Karikaas is one of the few cheesemakers that specialises in vintage cheese, Di says.

“It takes a team to make winning cheeses, and everyone at Karikaas contributes to the quality of what we make.

“No-one can do it alone, but it is always very pleasing for a cheesemaker to get a gold medal, and a trophy is the icing on the cake.

“We pride ourselves on consistently winning gold and silver medals. We are good at what we do, and our customers appreciate that we do it consistently.”

Covid-19 restrictions meant the cheese awards event in early May went ahead by video via YouTube and Facebook.

“I sent all the staff a link so that we could watch at 4pm on May 6 from our own homes to see how we went,” Di says.

“Delta wines were the sponsors for the European category, so I toasted our win with a toast to Delta wines, because wine and cheese are such a great combination.”

The Karikaas shop at Loburn is closed to the public at this time to protect the manufacturing business.

However, Di says people wanting to buy cheese can do so by mail order and through its website.