In April, Alberta cheese producers will find out if their cheese is the best in the country. Sylvan Star Cheese in Red Deer is a finalist in the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada to celebrate the quality of Canadian cheese made from 100 per cent Canadian milk.
This is not the company’s first visit to the national competition. In 2009, Sylvan Star Cheese placed first in the Swiss-type cheese category with its Gruyre, first in the flavoured cheese with added non-particulate flavouring category with their Smoked Gouda, and first in the farmhouse cheese category with their Old Grizzly Sharp Gouda.
This year’s preliminary rounds had 203 entries. The judges had two days to narrow down the number of entries to just 51. Now the finalists will head to Toronto to see which cheese will come out on top. The category champions and grand champion will be revealed on April 20 at Toronto’s Palais Royale during the Gala of Champions. Sylvan Star Cheese is the only Prairie cheese producer in the finals.
For the 2011 competition Sylvan Star is a finalist in four categories; semi-soft cheese with Gouda Mild, firm cheese with Gouda Aged, flavoured cheese with added non-particulate flavours with Medium Gouda Smoked and flavoured cheese with added particulate solids and flavouring with Gouda Herbs and Garlic.
Jan Schalkwijk, founder and owner of Sylvan Star Cheese, immigrated to Canada from Holland in 1995 with his wife, Janneke, and their son, Jeroen. With over 30 years of cheese-making experience Jan decided to get back into the cheese-making business. The family company opened in 1999, after Jan imported cheese-making equipment into Canada from Holland. Today, Jeroen is responsible for running the dairy farm where he has around 120 Holsteins. Jan and Janneke make the cheese; between 30,000 to 40,000 kilograms a year.