Utah Cheese Awards expands to regional contest for its 5th running.

Utah Cheese Awards expands to regional contest for its 5th running.

The Utah Cheese Awards, a four-year-old artisan cheese plate food competition is celebrating its 5th judging by expanding its footprint to neighboring western states. Cheesemakers and eligible fine food producers in border states; Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho; and Montana will now be able to enter. 

With the 2021 contest theme “Best of the West”, show founder and director, Steven Ralph Jerman explains that the move was ‘a natural evolution’. “As I looked at ways to grow the contest this seemed like the way to generate more excitement and stature, but stay true to a theme,” he said. 

“Most people know that Utah is the ‘Crossroads of the West’, so why not a literal center of cheesemaking in the Mountain West states?” He continues to explain that Utah shares many attributes with the surrounding states so he sees it as creating a level, but larger playing field. “I still suspect most of the entries will be from Utah but this should really up the game in certain categories, add excitement to others, while bringing greater prestige as a whole.”

The first show in 2017 was organized in just a few months and was treated with skepticism among some. But now the awards are something cheesemakers and other producers look forward to as a not-to-miss, highly credible, low-cost way to promote their products. 

The award show is also looking for judges. “It seems we always need a couple of extra,” Jerman said. “While those working in the food industry have the ideal qualifications, we also like fun, interesting, and kind volunteers in the room,” he said. “Non-industry people often have excellent instincts and point the way to crowd-pleasing favorites.” Those interested in judging or nominating a judge can write utahcheeseawards@gmail.com 

The show will once again have two judging sessions, Salt Lake City and Logan. The entry deadlines are August 18-20. Details and forms will be posted on the show’s website, utahcheeseawards.com by May 1, 2021. 

Stuart is the founder, writer and wrangler at several sites including Gastronomic SLC, Utah Now and, The Utah Review; Stuart is a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune and has worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake.