GREEN BAY - An aged gouda is the best cheese in America, as Holland's Family Cheese of Thorp brought home the top prize at the United States Championship Cheese Contest held Wednesday night at the Legends Club Room, Lambeau Field Atrium.
"Can't believe it, can't believe it," said Marieke Pentermen in between a few loud whoops and a little jig. "This is awesome."
Pentermen is originally from Holland and says they have their sites set on beating the Dutch in next year's world competition.
The first runner up was a tarentaise from Spring Brook Farms in Reading, Vt. while a medium cheddar by Team Cracker Barrel Natural Cheese, Agropur Weyauwega, rounded out the top three. The top three cheeses were separated by less than a point.
The evening event was a first in the contest's history and Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association executive director John Umhoefer was pleased with the evening.
"We had a great night," said Umhoefer. "We had about 250 people here from Green Bay to watch it and help out Paul's Pantry so we're very happy with it."
The event along with other donations surrounding the two-day event raised $14,000 for Paul's Pantry.
It most likely will be a new tradition for the contest.
"I think this is the new way to do this," Umhoefer To celebrate in the eveing and have the city come down and help the pantry and make a nice evening of it."
This was the third U.S. championship held in Green Bay. The U.S. contest alternates years with the world championship, which is held in Madison. Each Green Bay contest boasted a record number of entries, including 1,702 this year.
Wisconsin, which carries a certain pride in cheesemaking, finished first in 46 of 82 individual categories.
Last year's U.S. champion, Katie Hedrich of LaClare Farms Specialties, was third in the hard goat's milk cheeses.
John Griffiths of Sartori Foods, Antigo, produced the U.S. champoin cheese in 2009, the first year the contest was held at Lambeau Field, and second overall in 2011. Griffiths was second this year in Parmesan, his specialty.
Locally, cheesemakers at the Agropur plant in Luxemburg continued to dominate the mozzarella category. In the 2011 contest, the Luxemburg crew swept the top three spots.
This year, Pat Doell, who was third in 2011, won best in class. Roger Krohn, first in 2011, finished second, and Terry Linsmire, second in mozerrella in 2011, took top honors in mild cheddar and Feta, only with Agropur's Weyauwega plant this time.
Other local winners included:
• Bill Kocha of BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, was best in class in aged provolone.
• Edoardo La Torre of BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, finished first in fresh mozzarella.
• Bill Codr of BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, was best of class in open class soft cheeses.
• Bill Sikorski of BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, was first in open class hard cheeses.
• Team Graf of Graf Creamery Inc., Bonduel, was first in unsalted butter.
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