Former Olympian crowned Australia’s best ice-cream maker

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 12th May 2011

A former Olympic pole vaulting champion and a French-born Gippsland cheese maker have taken top honours in the RNA’s Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show search for the nation’s best ice-cream and dairy product.

Silver medallist for Australia at the 2000 Olympics, Tatiana Grigroveria, took top honours for her Ascot Caffe e Gelato Milany’s special banana ice-cream, beating more than 150 entries to win the gold medal and the title as Australia’s best ice-cream in the RQFWS’s Australian first Ice-Cream, Gelato and Sorbet Show.

Master cheesemaker Franck Beaurain, from Jindi Cheese in Gippsland, Victoria, reigned supreme with his Jindi Old Telegraph Road Heritage Blue, winning Grand Champion Cheese and the title of Australia’s best dairy product at the RQFWS’s Cheese and Dairy Product competition.

Following four days of rigorous judging, more than 500 entries in both competitions were pitted against one another in one of the top food and wine competitions in Australia.

RQFWS Chief Judge and world cheese expert Russell Smith said the standard of entries across the board was exceptional.

“This year there was a 34% overall increase in entries for the Cheese and Dairy Produce Show competition, a 28% jump in cheese, 34% increase in yoghurts and desserts and a whopping 79% increase in milks and creams,’’ he said.

Smith said the inaugural RQFWS Ice-Cream, Gelato and Sorbet Show represented the first time in the country that a national competition was held to judge ice-cream and sorbet.

“Caffe e Gelato Milany’s exceptional banana ice-cream would hold its own around the world and what won the judges over was its amazing texture and genuine fruit flavour which requires exacting production methods,’’ he said.

Smith said the one flavour ice-cream triumphed over other more innovative flavours purely due to its integrity and balance, and was judged the best of the best in a rare unanimous verdict.

Meanwhile, the Jindi Old Telegraph Road Heritage Blue, first released in April 2010, uses traditional cheese making methods and impressed judges with its “stunningly complex blue flavour, superb creamy texture, and flavours which lingered on the palate well after consumption.”

“For this style of blue cheese, it’s a truly great cheese,’’ Smith said.

Other major winners include: Champion Dairy Dessert or Yoghurt of Show – Maleny Dairies, Maleny Queensland for its strawberry yoghurt; Champion Milk or Cream of Show – Mungalli Creek Dairy, Millaa Millaa Queensland, for its full cream biodynamic milk; Champion Buffalo, Goat or Sheep Milk Product of Show – Emmos Fine Foods, Laidley Queensland for its Nannybert; Champion Queensland Cheese or Dairy Product of Show – Emmos Fine Foods, Laidley Queensland for its Nannybert.

Now in its third year, the RQFWS is an exciting initiative of the RNA and involves eight individual competitions that showcases the best of the best from dairy, to ice-cream, wine, steak, lamb, olive oil, sausages and beer.

Competition winners earn the right to display their gold, silver, bronze or trophy show medal on product packaging, ensuring consumers know they are buying the best of the best in that product range.

The hunt for the next two best of the best continues with the RQFWS branded beef and lamb competitions occurring in June as the RNA continues its quest to find Australia’s best steak and lamb.

Throughout the 10 days of Ekka in August, winning products will be stocked at the Royal Queensland Show Deli, giving consumers the chance to taste award-winning produce.