Vegan Cheese Awards 2022

The results are in!

Thank you to all the wonderful contestants who the made the 2022 Vegan Cheese Awards even better this year and congrats to our amazing winners who have created some stand-out vegan cheese! Our thanks also goes to our amazing judges; Jasbir (Jazz) Kaur, Michael Khuawattenasenne, Aaron Pucci, Alara Varnel and to our generous and clever hosts @The Butchers Son, Auckland!

The judges had some tough decisions to make at this year’s Vegan Cheese Awards. Hosted by The Butcher’s Son, in Auckland, the Vegan Society Aotearoa’s Vegan Cheese Awards were hotly contested with over 30 entries in 9 different categories of cheeses. After 2 hours of painstaking tasting by experts in the food industry, the Supreme Winner was crowned: Casheta by Savour, a cashew based feta style vegan cheese wowed all the judges with its “Wonderful appearance, right amount of salt and pepper. Good feta!”

The rise in popularity of plant-based foods with people who are becoming more aware of their carbon emissions has led to an incredible array of plant-based cheeses. The Vegan Society food awards showcase the best of these, giving the public a clear indication of the quality and tastiness of each winner and runner up. The second year of the cheese awards saw the return of old favourites from last year and some great new flavours and developments in cheese making since the inaugural year.

There is no cholesterol in plants, so those keen to preserve their health as well as the environment  but love cheese, can finally eat their way safely into cheese heaven. Supermarkets know that vegan cheese is on the rise as they are seeing a 30% increase in plant-based foods from last year.

This is a huge win for the plant-based industry and The Vegan Society Aotearoa New Zealand is delighted to present this year’s award winners:

SUPREME WINNER

Savour; Cashetta

CREAM CHEESE

Winner
The Green Larder; Smoked Cream Cheese

Judges said; Good smoke, well balanced. Good umami and smooth texture. Very pleasing.

Runner Up
Hapi; Sour Cream

Judges said; Great sour cream. Sweet after taste.

MOZZARELLA

Winner
Zenzo

Judges said; Melty appearance. Nice composition with melt. Good moisture, tasty.  

Runner Up
Angel Food

Judges said; Melts well, smooth texture, balanced flavour.

SURFACE RIPENED AND BLUE

Winner
Moa Bakery Cakery; Blue

Judges said; Beautiful strong flavour. Creamy and firm mould. Nice appearance. A ‘real’ blue in the vegan world.

Runner Up
Let Them Eat Vegan; Creamy Camembert

Judges said; Mild flavour, good texture. 

FETA

Winner
Savour;  Cashetta

Judges said; Wonderful appearance, right amount of salt and pepper. Good feta!

Runner up
Let Them Eat Vegan; Herbed Feta

Judges said; Looks good. Delicious herb flavour. Would go well in salad and would add protein.

SOFT CHEESE

Winner
Savour; Cashetta

Judges said: Wonderful appearance. Good on cheese board, Well balanced favour and acidity. Right amount of pepper.

Runner up
Let Them Eat Vegan; Creamy Camembert Spread

Judges said; Texture good. It screamed camembert- delicious on a burger. Great versatility in the kitchen

Runner Up
Savour; Chipotle

Judges said; Good spiciness. Flavour and acidity is well balanced. Colour is very attractive

COMMERCIAL AND FLAVOURED CHEDDAR

Winner
Zenzo; Cheddar

Judges said; Good balance of fats and solids. Moisture good. Grates well, with good flavour and salt.

Runner Up
Nu Dairy Sliced Cheddar

Judges said; Good cheese, good flavour.

FLAVOURED CHEESE

Winner
Sonntag; Cumin Gouda

Judges said; Cumin covered beautiful. Flavour well balanced. Brilliant on a cheese board. Well toned, with mass appeal.

Runner up
Savour: Ash

Judges said; Very attractive. Good texture. Great Ash flavour. Would capture younger vegans.

Runner up
Savour; Chipotle

Judges said; Flavoured really well. Good level of chipotle. Excellent texture to hold in a round

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Meet the Judges 2022

aaron Pucci
Jasbir Kaur
Alara Varnell
Michael Khu

Aaron Pucci has clocked up 25 years in the food and beverage manufacturing industry.

His trusted palate has earned him numerous seats on judging panels for awards in New Zealand and Australia over 15 years.

Aaron is always on the lookout for new brands and products ~ especially those that are breaking new ground.

Aaron’s ‘food for thought’ is a desire for more manufacturers to take up the challenge of sustainable food operations and reducing their carbon footprint.

Multi-award-winning executive chef & trainer, TV personality, creative head and chef of the new series “Ignite the Chef in You” and President of the NZ Chef Association Auckland, Chef Jazz is an external verifier for City and Guilds, UK.

She has been judging in New Zealand’s Regional and National culinary salon competitions for the past nine years and is deputy chief judge for the Hospitality Championships.

She has worked in top hotels and restaurants in five countries – USA, UK, India, New Zealand and Spain.

Vegan Chef, Business owner and trainer.

Having grown up on a dairy farm and worked for MAF early on, Alara moved into Restaurant Management in London in early 2000’s before returning to NZ to start a food production company in 2008 -bringing the first artisan cultured nut cheeses to NZ in 2011.

She is passionate about innovating new vegan products, starting NZs first Vegan Deli and later opening an Eatery in Parnell.

Her interests lie in supporting farming communities, people and animals together to find more harmonious ways to thrive.

Michael Khuwattenasenee is the brains behind Khu Khu.

He was inspired to make it a vegan restaurant after completing a 30-day vegan challenge.

While doing the challenge, he struggled to find any decent vegan places to go out to eat with friends. Thus, Khu Khu, a fully vegan Thai Eatery, was born.

Michael has a Master’s of Technological Futures and Entrepreneurial studies.

He’s a purpose-driven entrepreneur at heart, with a variety of different business ventures on the go, including BioFab, one of the 2019 C-Prize Finalists. BioFab aims to rid the world of polystyrene by replacing it with eco-friendly fungi-based materials.

Photos from the Vegan Cheese Awards 2022