One of my favourite events of the foodie calendar is the Australian Grand Dairy Awards (AGDAS). As a massive cheese and dairy lover, it’s always a great experience to meet the producers first hand and of course taste the beautiful produce.
The AGDAS began in 1999 to recognise and reward excellence and innovation in Australian dairy produce. It is the highest accolade for Australian dairy producers. Amanda Menegazzo, convener of the Australian Grand Dairy Awards said: “These Awards are the grand final of dairy competitions in Australia, recognising the talented Australian farmers and producers who bring such high quality dairy foods to our fridges.”
Now in its 18th year, the year 2017 has seen a record 470 entries in the Awards – the entrants ranging from milk and butter to ice cream and cheese producers. Hosted by Alice Zavlavsky (Alice in Frames) and Amanda Menegazzo, the event was a lot of fun, as guests were told stories about the producers. The makers were also on hand to talk about their produce and offer some unique insights into the dairy industry in Australia.
The AGDAs announced its 2017 Champions and revealed the nation’s 20 finest dairy producers at the picturesque Greenfields at Albert Park Lake. A panel of 24 expert judges tasted their way through the hundreds of gold medal winning dairy foods – including cheese, ice cream, milk, butter, cream, yoghurt, dips and gelato – assessing flavour, aroma, texture, body and appearance. Now doesn’t that sounds like the perfect job!?
The ultimate prize – the 2017 Grand Champion Dairy Product,was won up by Queensland based gelataria, Milani House of Gelato for its creamy Dark Chocolate Gelato. And let’s just say it didn’t disappoint for its velvety smooth consistency. The other winner of the esteemed Grand Champion award was Heidi Farm Raclette (Grand Champion for Cheese).
One of the greatest thing about the awards is seeing Australia’s best known supermarket brands being represented alongside smaller, artisan dairy producers. It’s wonderful to see so much premium quality produce on our very doorsteps.
We were lucky enough to sample a delicious range of the award-winning produce as well as many delicious dairy inspired canapes.
A definite crowd pleaser was the Raclette from Tasmania’s Heidi Farm, which saw dozens of dairy lovers make a B Line to the raclette station once smelling the delicious aroma of melted cheese. Melted on a raclette burner, it was scraped off and served on potatoes and greens. The cheese has a delicious robust flavour and some lingering umami savoury characters. The rind of the cheese is washed and scrubbed during production, promoting flavour development and ripening.
This year, the Australian public was also given the opportunity to judge the People’s Choice category. From a whopping 3,500 votes the winner was King Island Dairy’s Black Label Double Brie as the inaugural People’s Choice Award.
Of course the evening had to finish on a sweet note, with a range of producers winning the Champion Awards. If you’re a rice pudding fan, you would love the House of Riz Traditional Greek Rice Pudding (rizogalo) which is made from fresh milk and sprinkled with cinnamon. In the ice cream category, Dooley’s Ice Cream of Apollo Bay continued their winning streak with their Premium Chocolate Ice Cream.
I can’t wait to follow the awards in upcoming years and support more local Australian producers in the future. I certainly came away with a full heart, and even a fuller belly!
For full details of the winners of the Australian Grand Dairy Awards, visit the Dairy Australia website (www.legendairy.com.au).
Thank you to Dairy Australia for inviting me to this event.