By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun
Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory will be bringing home two awards from a world championship cheese contest.
Mountain Cheese and other cheesemakers and buttermakers from around the world were vying for the awards in the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association 27th Biennial World Championship Cheese Contest.
Because two individuals from a company could enter, two of Mountain Cheese’s officers, Chuck Krause, president of operations, and Scott Novy, vice president of operations, each entered the company’s signature product, feta cheese.
The company relieved a silver and a bronze award in the feta cheese category.
“The first place in the feta cheese category was won by Denmark, so out of thousands of entries, our feta cheese was ranked the best in the United States,” Krause said.
“The cheese that we entered is the same cheese that is available to our customers we did nothing different to the cheese that we entered.”
Feta cheese is a Greek cheese used in many Greek recipes. One of its more popular uses is in Greek salad.
The TMCF also makes several blends of cheese including, Munster, cheddar, Monterey Jack, green chili pepper jack and cheese curds, Krause said. The factory relies on dairies in Clovis and Portales to supply its milk for cheese making.
“Most of our sales and clients are restaurants and we ship our goods as far as San Diego and Boston,” Krause said.
The contest is an objective assessment of cheeses and butters and awards gold, silver and bronze medals to the finest products in 79 classes, according to the contest organizers. The international panel of 22 judges, experts in cheese evaluation, examines entries and deducts points for defects. The gold, silver and bronze medal winners are decided based on the highest average scores in each class.
Nearly 2,000 cheeses and butters from 22 countries were entered in the competition, according to news reports.
Since its first year of operation in 1995, the factory has competed in the contest but only scored as high as fourth and fifth place in previous contest years, Krause said.
“I have been making cheese for 40 years and this is the best that I have ever done,” Krause said. “This could not have been possible without our dedicated employees working so hard in an operation that is old school in production.”
TMCF employs 18 workers.
Krause plans to attend the awards banquet on April 24, in Madison, Wisc.
“Placing twice in the top three of an international cheese competition validates our business and all the hard work that has been done since it opened in 1995,” Krause said.