Paula Lambert's Mozzarella Company had another strong showing at this year's American Cheese Society competition, the artisanal cheese industry's version of the Academy Awards.
Nearly 1,500 cheeses were entered in the annual competition, which includes 110 hotly contested categories such as "cheeses flavored with whole or crushed peppercorns" and "cheddar wrapped in cloth/linen, aged up to 12 months." The awards were announced at the society's conference in Seattle this weekend.
The Mozarella Company finished first in three divisions, winning the "flavor-added Hispanic-style cheese" category with its chile queso blanco and claiming the "cold-pack cheese food with flavors added" crown for its pecan praline marscapone. Its goat ricotta took top honors in the open category for goat's milk.
Other Texan dairies among the winners included Brazos Valley Cheeses and Pure Luck Dairy, which took first in the goat feta category and second in the "Blue-veined made from goat's milk with a rind or external coating" division.
For farmers struggling to pay their bills with flavored havarti cheeses, a victory in the society's contest -- which often translates into significantly improved sales -- is especially meaningful.