Andrew Van Kralingen, trade account manager from cheesemonger Paxton & Whitfield has been crowned Young Cheesemonger of the Year 2017 at the British Cheese Awards held early in June on the second day of the Royal Bath & West Show.
The finalists took part in three rounds organised during the show including a cut & wrap exercise; identification, where contestants had to taste and identify a number of unmarked cheeses; and round three - where each contestant took part in Masterind, a Mastermind-style quiz, and answer questions about British cheese.
Van Kralingen, said: "I felt quite nervous going into the competition as I wanted to do well for the company and myself. However, once the first round started those nerves went away and it was nice to get on with it but also to spend time with my fellow contestants. As the competition runs throughout the day, we spent time in between rounds with each other talking about our work.
"I didn't enjoy the cut & wrap round but really enjoyed the Masterind and cheese identification ones as being challenged on my knowledge of cheese was great fun. At the end when they read out my name as the winner I couldn't believe it. I'm thrilled to named this year's Young Cheesemonger of the Year 2017!"
Peter Mitchell, chairman of the British Cheese Awards, said: "We were delighted to welcome this competition back for its second year at the British Cheese Awards. It's an important competition for the British cheese industry as it promotes the key role of a cheesemonger whilst also engaging with the younger generation on the wonderful world of cheese. I was really impressed with the knowledge and skill of this year's finalists."
Ros Windsor, managing director of Paxton & Whitfield, added: "We're thrilled for Andrew, he's a very dedicated member of the team at our flagship shop on Jermyn Street in London. It's testament to the hard work that Andrew has put into his role and also to his love of British cheese. I'm very pleased that this award has been created as it is so important to encourage young cheesemongers to develop their knowledge and skills, and therefore help safeguard the future of artisan cheese sales. We're only as good as the quality of our staff."