CANNON FALLS, MN – AUGUST 17, 2017
And the winner is… CannonBelles Cheese from Cannon Falls, Minnesota! CannonBelles Cheese recently took home 1st Place in the Hispanic and Portuguese Style Cheeses Category at the 2017 American Cheese Society (ACS) Judging & Competition for their Queso Fresco Cheese. The results were announced at the awards ceremony on July 28th at the 34th Annual ACS Conference in Denver, Colorado
This year’s competition broke all records for the professionally-judged national contest with 2,024 entries of cheeses and cultured dairy products from 281 companies, a 10 percent growth over the prior year. Competing companies represented 36 U.S. states, four Canadian provinces, Mexico, and Colombia.
“We were hoping that maybe after 5 years or so, we might be able to get a 2nd or 3rd place, as we continue to sharpen our skills, so we were thrilled with this unexpected 1st place award at such a prestigious event,” said Lufkin. “My partners and I all agree that this could not have happened without the help of several local stores and restaurants that believed in us, and were willing to take a chance and sell our cheeses. We can’t thank them enough!”
CannonBelles Cheese, incorporated in December of 2015 by friends Deeann Lufkin, Jackie Ohmann, and Kathy Hupf, is an artisan cheese company that specializes in unique cheese flavors not found elsewhere in Minnesota. In addition to Queso Fresco, the company offers Gouda and Cheddar aged cheeses, and fresh Cheese Curds, both plain and flavored. They started producing cheese commercially just over a year ago and already the cheese is available at over 16 Minnesota stores and restaurants, and also through the company’s website.
The American Cheese Society was founded in 1983 by Dr. Frank Kosikowski of Cornell University as a national organization for home and farm cheesemaking. The ACS Judging & Competition is the largest event of its kind for American-made cheeses.
“Winners receive recognition for their hard work and craftsmanship, and consumers get a preview of what to look for at their local grocers or specialty cheese shops in the coming year,” said Nora Weiser, ACS executive director.
CannonBelles currently makes their cheese at the University of Minnesota Pilot Plant while finalizing plans to build a facility in Cannon Falls. Dave Maroney, head of the Cannon Falls Economic Development Authority, has been working for several years to make Cannon Falls a “local food hub,” featuring high quality, locally sourced, farmstead to table foods.
“Cannon Falls is the perfect place for us to build our plant,” said Jackie Ohmann. “It’s such a wonderful community and everyone has been so supportive of us, it’s been really amazing! Our goal as cheesemakers is to craft artisan cheese that is of the highest quality, using locally sourced ingredients, yet still remain affordable and family friendly, so Cannon Falls is a perfect fit for CannonBelles Cheese!”
“We’re excited to bring wonderfully flavored cheese products to our local communities and beyond,” said Kathy Hupf. “Consumers are really getting back to the basics with their food choices and wanting to know where their food is coming from, knowing the producers who are growing and making it, creating a new local food movement, and we couldn’t be happier being a part of that movement.”
“Queso fresco” means “fresh cheese” in Spanish. Queso Fresco is native to Spain, Mexico, Central America, northern parts of South America, and the southern United States. Although some Queso Fresco is made from a combination of goat and cow milk, producing a crumbly and salty cheese, CannonBelles’ Queso Fresco is made from cow’s milk to be creamy, mild, and easily melted.
For more information about CannonBelles Cheese, including contact information, store locations, and recipes using Queso Fresco, visit http://cannonbelles.com/.
For more information about the American Cheese Society and the 2107 contest, visit http://www.cheesesociety.org