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Upper Hunter cheesemakers take out most brie-lliant dairy award in Australia

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One of the Upper Hunter’s local businesses has taken out the most prestigious award in the Australian dairy industry. 

Annie and Jason Chesworth with their team at Hunter Belle Dairy Co. have won the Jasol Award for the highest scoring brie/camambert style cheese for their Ash Briebelle at the 2020 Dairy Industry Association of Australia (DIAA) Awards. 

Jason said they won a gold medal for the ash cheese earlier this year at the DIAA awards, and got a call last week with the even better news.

“We got a phone call last week to say they were postponing the presentation dinner for the big awards but it came with good news in that we won the trophy for best brie or camembert in its class so a pretty good result for a little local company like ours.”

“Our range of triple cream bries have a  pretty big following across the Hunter Valley,” said Jason. 

That cheese isn’t the only one that picked up some medals this year. 

“Our haloumi, and the herb and garlic feta, also won a gold medal and our cranberry and pistachio and caramelised onion cheddars also won silvers so we’ve never had a result like that from any show that we’ve entered in the past so we’re absolutely over the moon with this one.”

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Jason explained that the ash they use in the process of making the ash briebelle is real ash and adds an incredible flavour to the cheese as it matures and makes it even creamier.

“It is actually ash, so back in the day it was a way that I suppose cheese makers used as another line of defence against outside bacteria so it was a way to actually make the brie last a little bit longer and stop any imperfect moulds that we don’t want growing so we want that beautiful fluffy white to come through. S that’s how it originated.”

“We actually cheat a little bit, our little secret is we actually turn the ash into a bit of a paste and paint it over teh cheese just after its brined on day two and then by day eight or nine its grown white mould through that black layer,” said Jason.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on businesses in the Upper Hunter in various ways, including for the team at Hunter Belle Dairy Co. so it’s fair to say this recognition means even more considering how hard the team have had to work.

“It hasn’t been easy for us and I’m sure it's been a lot harder for other people out there as well, but you know we’ve got a great team of people that work for us that work very hard and have had to work even harder through this covid pandemic so we’re just really happy that they’re getting recognised and we can continue to successes.”

“Thank you to the people of the Upper Hunter, it's their support for our products that makes all this possible so without supporting local products these sorts of awards just wouldn’t happen at all,” said Jason.

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Image credit: Hunter Belle Dairy Co. supplied