Canada on Top
Canadian artisan cheese now competes with the best in the world
In the early 2000s, the farm-to-table movement translated into an appetite for local products, and Canadian cheese wasn’t an exception.
In fact, the demand came before the supply.
In those early days, there were concerns that Canadian artisan cheese couldn’t compete on an international playing field—but with the increase in demand came an increase in both capacity and quality.
Cheese makers, dairy farmers, retailers and consumers all aligned to push the demand for artisan cheese.
“That equation is very important,” notes Afrim Pristine, one of the few Canadians to hold the title of maître fromager, “and we’re all on board now.”
But the movement probably would not have happened without support in the kitchen. “Canadian chefs have been instrumental in the promotion of Canadian cheese,” notes Donna Dooher, president and CEO of Restaurants Canada, and co-owner of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen.
And, as a result, the domestic market has opened.
“Canadians are very savvy when it comes to food. They’re passionate about what they’re eating—how it was made and where it comes from. So, featuring Canadian cheese is a great fit for restaurants menus,” Dooher said.
Chefs embraced the artisan movement, and helped educate their customers on the new wave of cheeses that were emerging throughout the nation.
And the evolution continues. A combination of European techniques, high quality ingredients and a growing enthusiasm is seeing Canadian product improve even more. At the Cheese Boutique— Pristine’s family business in Toronto—there is now a dedicated Canadian cheese counter, a recent change that would have been hard to predict a decade ago.
“We’re still very excited about what we’re doing,” he notes, “because, in Europe, it’s plateaued a little bit. I’m not just doing it because its Canadian, I’m doing it because it’s an awesome product. Our cheese can really go toe-to-toe with anything else.
“And, once we really hone our skills and techniques, that’s when we make the next move,” he adds. “In the meantime, I’m perfectly happy with keeping our own bounty here in Canada. I’m a selfish Canadian that way.”
Fromagerie du Presbytère takes top honours
Laliberté named Grand Champion at Canadian Cheese Grand Prix
This past summer, Dairy Farmers of Canada announced Fromagerie du Presbytère Laliberté as the Grand Champion at the ninth edition of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Gala of Champions.
Sponsored and hosted every two years by Dairy Farmers of Canada, the Grand Prix celebrates high quality Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian milk. Named after famous sculptor Alfred Laliberté, the farmstead cheese took a year and a half to develop—and Fromagerie du Presbytère has become known for speciality cheeses that are among the best in Canada.
Its Louis d’Or was named Grand Champion at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix in 2011, and the Fromagerie has won numerous other national and provincial awards.
The Grand Champion and 27 category winners were selected from a recordsetting 268 cheese entries, submitted by cheese makers from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia.
Visit DairyFarmers.ca/grandprix for a list of the winners and finalists in 27 separate categories.
The best in taste, texture and aroma!
Canada’s 100 Best asked a few of the country’s top chefs to offer up some of their favourite recipes using local winners from the 2015 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix.
The cheeses they picked were chosen for their taste, texture and aroma—and we think you’ll particularly love these recipes.
Laurie Raphaël, Quebec City
Mildred’s Temple Kitchen
Connie DeSousa & John Jackson,
CHARCUT Roast House
Bon Vivant Hospitality Group