Cornish Kern cheese produced by Lynher Dairies has recently been crowned Taste of the West’s Supreme Champion Product of 2020. This product was selected from a group of 25 champion products from the Taste of the West Awards, and judges were blown away by its sweet aroma, solid bite and a healthy dose of rich dairy flavours. Kern is arguably a modern-day legend of British cheese.
Lynher Dairies, tucked away on a country lane near Falmouth, is the sole producer of both the award-winning Cornish Kern cheese and the iconic nettle-wrapped Cornish Yarg. The dairy owns a herd of Ayrshires to provide the rich and creamy milk that goes into their award-winning cheeses. Healthy and happy cows are at the heart of the Lynher ethos, and the Ayrshires are farmed to the highest of animal welfare practices.
Owned by Catherine Mead, Lynher Dairies employs the whole team from herdsmen to briners, nettlers to packers. Both Kern and Yarg are made by hand in open vats by a small team of dedicated cheesemakers who work with both science and intuition.
After having been crowned Supreme Champion at the World Cheese Awards in 2017, Cornish Kern has now gone on to win both Taste of the West’s Champion Cheese Award 2020 and the Supreme Champion Product Award 2020. Firm to the cut, slightly flaky in the middle, its buttery taste with caramel notes has found itself on the top cheeseboards all over the world; it has even been served to first class passengers of British Airways!
“Our fields are where our story begins,” explains Catherine. “A healthy soil rich in nutrients grows the very best grass and that is what we want our cows to feed on. Free-ranging, pasture-fed cows produce wonderful milk which in turn produces great cheese. Cornish Kern is proof of that!”
Lynher’s Ayrshire cows have a diet of 80% grazed grass with 20% conserved forage, the opposite of an intensive farming regime. They graze for 70% of the year and when it’s wet and windy, they are bedded inside on sea sand. It’s like lying on the beach for them but it has another benefit too. The salt in the sand is inert, killing all bacteria. The salty bedding is swept up into the slurry which is sprayed onto the fields in spring, helping keep the PH of the soil up. This is particularly useful in Cornwall because the granite land has an inherently low PH and grass requires the soil to be 6.5%. The grass seed is a mix of perennial rye grasses and white clover which is rich in protein and fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere through its root system. Pesticides are never used.
Taste of the West’s Supreme Champion Product Award of 2020 is sponsored by Black & White Asset Finance Ltd. Tim Shears, Managing Director of Black and White Asset Finance commented “It has been an absolute pleasure to sponsor the Supreme Champion awards for the last 5 years and being involved in judging just adds to the feeling of belonging to a group of fantastic food producers in the West. I also have the pleasure, in normal times, of visiting the producers and seeing the fantastic craft led processes. Coming from the food industry myself that is such a great part of my job. That, and talking to business owners who are looking to invest in their growth and their brands. We are all hoping those days will return and I look forward to meeting ambitious local food producers again soon.”
The Reserve Supreme Champion Product of 2020 has been awarded to the Salted Caramel Gelato made by Baboo Gelato near Bridport in Dorset. Judges described it as the perfect ice-cream; smooth as silk and richly creamy with a good balance of caramel and salt. It’s incredibly moreish and can be eaten straight from the tub or as a perfect accompaniment to a whole host of desserts.
The Taste of the West Awards have been running for over 25 years and the annual programme rewards the very best food and drink made by producers from across the South West – in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. It’s the largest regional food and drink awards programme in the UK, helping food and drink businesses in the South West to thrive and succeed. It’s fair to say the Taste of the West Awards logo is widely regarded as a benchmark for excellence across the whole South West region.
The Taste of the West Awards 2020 were title sponsored by financial experts Old Mill, who share Taste of the West’s passion for supporting local food and drink businesses from the West Country. Phil Mills, Head of Food & Drink at Old Mill commented “The South West’s food & drink sector has faced unrivalled challenges over the last twelve months so, notwithstanding this adversity, it’s fantastic for us at Old Mill to be involved in something so positive. The Taste of the West awards traditionally brings together the very best producers in terms of what the region has to offer and, whilst we haven’t been able to celebrate success together in the usual way, we would like to congratulate both Lynher Dairies and Baboo Gelato as well as recognise all of the other entrants who have kept going through these unprecedented times putting some of the best produce in the country on our tables. We are delighted to continue to support the sector through our continued partnership with Taste of the West.”
John Sheaves, Chief Executive of Taste of the West, commented “At a time when we are all being significantly challenged, this is a superb result. Not least because the top two products are fantastic representatives and ambassadors for our wonderful dairy sector here in the South West. At a time when this important sector is being asked some serious questions about sustainability, it is heartening to see two brilliant products being produced locally with minimal impact on the environment, and being rightly recognised for their quality, integrity and provenance”.
A full list of all product winners, champion finalists and winners from the Taste of the West Awards 2020 is available here: https://www.tasteofthewest.co.uk/awards
Entries into the Taste of the West Hospitality & Retail Awards 2020/2021 are also open, though judging is currently on hold until lockdown restrictions have been eased. To find out more please visit the website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.