Say Cheese with Helen Waterworth, Cheese Judge

Hobart Food Show in Tasmania interviews
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Blessed are the cheesemakers! - a great accompaniment to Tasmanian wines

Blessed are the cheesemakers! - a great accompaniment to Tasmanian wines [©Dept Ec Dev Tasmania]

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Helen Waterworth, Cheese Judge, Hobart Food Show [©]


Helen Waterworth is a cheese judge and a cheese educator whose passion is regional as well as seasonal Australian produce. Judging at the Hobart Food Show in Tasmania she tells us how the cheese industry has changed and what a judge looks for in a cheese.

"I grew up in Tasmania and I didn’t understand regionalism until I moved to Sydney as a student. I tried to shop the way that my mother did in Tasmania and I couldn’t. From then on I’ve always had this fascination with regionalism, seasonality and also as the supermarkets and the world moves forward about commerciality and being able to supply produce twelve months of the year and taking away all the things about eating food in season.

"I did spend 12 months on King Island with King Island Dairy as their marketing manager and building that amazing brand. We learned about true seasonality, breaking down barriers. We still have to educate people, and with cheese it is all about education.

"You think about all the cheeses that we have had here today and you think about the cheeses that were entered here fifteen years ago. I think about my first cheese show; the judges were cheddar graders, we didn’t have cheese graders in Australia. Fifteen years ago we had a washed rind, they raised their eyebrows and said this cheese is rotten. In fifteen years the progress we have made is quite fascinating.

"We are now in great shape. I judged at the British Cheese show in 2000 and it was fascinating to compare where we were with a fifteen year old industry to where they have had a territorial industry for hundreds of years. We are right up there.

"Our judging today has changed compared to twelve months ago and some of the judges attitudes have changed for the better because we are looking for ripeness and flavour as well as technically well made cheeses. Now a couple of years ago people thought a technically well made cheese was all we wanted but that’s not so. We want it to be technically well made but we want it to have a “wow” factor;  we want it to have personality and character and a memory.

"I think Australians are great because we have one of the great cuisines of the world and we are also some of the greatest risk takers and it’s because we have tried other flavours, otherwise we’d still be eating the chop and four veg. You bring any Australian into the room here today and they would probably try everything. Some would probably say “Oh I reckon that’s a bit off”, but they’d try it and that’s really where our cheese industry and our food industry has come to thanks to our non traditional culture and breaking the barriers and I think that’s exciting."

© VisitVineyards®


  • Hobart (TAS)

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January 29th, 2010
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