Judging and Judge Training

Judging requires a knowledge of cheese styles, a background in their make processes, an understanding of how to distinguish ‘character traits’ from ‘defects’, and a strong foundation in sensory analysis.

Sue has judged at the following competitions over the years:

  • World Cheese Awards (also Judge trainer)
  • American Cheese Society
  • Meilleur Ouvrier de France (English language discourse)
  • Farm Cheese Awards
  • GourmetQuesos
  • Mondial du Fromage
  • Salon du Fromage Coups de Coeur
  • Concours Générale Agricole produits laitiers

In 2019, in collaboration with Mons Formation, Sue developed a formal, one-day judge training program, which was piloted for the World Cheese Awards judge team leaders. This course is intended to be customizable for each competition, adjusting for judging categories, feedback forms, and comportment expectations.

The program includes:

  • Sensory analysis training, including practice on cheeses within samples of the competition’s categories.
  • Vocabulary to describe cheese
  • Review of categories and category definitions
  • Review of make processes for the principal categories within the competition, and the target organoleptics for selected cheeses that have Standards of Identity (eg, PDO) within those categories.
  • Judge comportment do’s and don’ts
  • Expectations for judge feedback and review of judge forms
  • Frequently observed defects and their sources

“Extremely clear and wonderfully delivered. Interesting, accessible and highly informative. I think it would be amazing if more judges attended the course, to get the judges well aligned.”

A video of the first edition of the Farm Cheese Awards, 2018. A glimpse inside a cheese competition.