MEET THE VIRTUAL CHEESE AWARD JUDGES

The Virtual Cheese Awards has pulled together an esteemed collection of judges to give each cheesemaker or consumer valuable insight about each cheese. WE would like to thank them all for their time and dedication.

Nigel Barden

HOST

FOOD & DRINK BROADCASTER

Nigel Barden is a food and drink broadcaster, who works with Simon Mayo on Scala Radio and previously with Simon and Chris Evans, on their Sony Gold award winning BBC Radio 2 shows for 12 years and he’s the food correspondent for BBC London.  He specialises in promoting British ingredients and artisan producers, particularly in his role as chairman of judges for The Great Taste Awards, Farm Shop & Deli Awards, World Cheese Awards, British Cookery School Awards, Deliciously Yorkshire and host of the National Fish & Chip and Ice Cream Alliance Awards. For the last two summers Nigel has hosted the Chef Demo Stages at Tom Kerridge’s ‘Pub in the Park’ festivals in Marlow, Bath, Leeds, Knutsford, Chiswick & St Albans.    
 
His own radio show “Barden’s Soundbites” was on Scala Radio and saw Nigel playing music inspired by food & drink. On TV “Nigel Barden’s Drivetime Dishes” airs on Amazon Prime and Simply Good Food TV.  His first podcast was “A Grand Hotel by Corinthia”, a 3 part series featuring chef Tom Kerridge and the Corinthia Hotel and he’s currently championing artisan food and drink producers in his podcast for Britannia Living. 
 
Since the March lock-down Nigel has presented live tastings for the British Cheese Weekender, highlighting the plight of the artisan cheese making community and hosted the Virtual Cheese Awards, a five and a half hour live event. He fronts the UCFF (Universal Cookery Food Festival) regular Zoom catch-ups and sits on the industry panel debates for Sodexo Foods. In the summer Nigel was the voice of the ‘Sea For Yourself’ radio campaign for Seafish, the public body supporting the seafood industry, encouraging listeners to cook more seafood and to try different species. In October he was filmed cooking for Seafish in his own kitchen.  
 
Nigel hosted the cocktail hour, to close 8 hours of the National Fruit Show, which was held virtually for the first time in 87 years. He also regularly hosts online cheese & wine tastings, often linking up with tasters abroad.  
 
Footage of ‘Cooking with the Barden Boys’ featuring Nigel and his 3 sons is posted weekly @NigelBarden on Instagram and twitter, featuring the dish he cooks for Scala Radio. The NigelBarden.com website is updated regularly.  
 
He is currently recording a new football console game, in which he’s the commentator. 
 
In a former life Nigel was a director of Yorkshire Fine Wines, based at Nun Monkton near York. He grew up on a farm in Lancashire, studied land agency at the Royal Agricultural College and worked in Yorkshire as a land agent. Nigel’s also a BBC rugby commentator and trained and worked as an actor. His wife is from Sicily and they have 3 boys under 22”.  

Dhruv Baker

JUDGE

TEMPUS FOODS

CO-FOUNDER

Dhruv is a charcuterie producer, co-founder of Tempus foods and chef. He has worked in the food industry for the past 12 years.
 
Dhruv has judged at the world cheese awards for the past 5 years as well as being a 3 star judge for the Great Taste Awards.
 
As a charcutier he is fascinated by the role of fermentation and the ageing of products to create something wonderful. There are numerous parallels between Dhruv’s working world of charcuterie and cheese making and both worlds have fascinated him for decades. Above all though, Dhruv loves cheese, in all its glorious formats and relishes the opportunity to learn more about it. 

Helen Blair

MODERATOR

GOOD SENSE RESEARCH

HEAD OF GOOD SENSE RESEARCH 

Helen has worked in consumer research for 15 years spanning many categories but her true love lies within the food and drink sector.

 

She has worked with many clients across the world; all different sizes including retailers, restaurant & pub chains, independents, manufacturers, producers, start-ups, and dairies. 

Adrian Boswell

JUDGE

SELFRIDGES

SENIOR FRESH FOOD BUYER

Adrian Boswell, a fishmonger by trade, has held down roles as a retail admin assistant, an allocator, and a merchandiser before he arrived at his current role as a Senior fresh food buyer for Selfridges.

 

Here he has spent the last 19 years gaining experience in premium fresh food retail. Adrian has extensive knowledge of the different food areas, including cheese, deli, fresh fish, smoked fish, caviar, truffle, meat & poultry, and F&V. Outside of work, he enjoys eating out, travelling, and swimming, and is an active member of his community, volunteering as Selfridges Centre Point ambassador and working as a youth football coach on his weekends.

Tracey Colley

JUDGE

ACADEMY OF CHEESE

DIRECTOR

Tracey has worked in the cheese industry for over 17 years; as an award winning deli owner, a top tier Account Manager and Events Organiser for fine food Distributor Harvey & Brockless and currently as a Founding Director and operations officer of the Academy of Cheese. 

She has worked with numerous cheesemakers, cheesemongers, and Food Halls across the UK for many years before helping to establish the fast-growing educational programmes of the Academy of Cheese. 

 

Tracey is an experienced cheese judge, usually in person and surrounded by colleagues and friends from the cheese world, so is intrigued and delighted to be taking part in this new virtual judging experience as part of the Virtual Cheese Awards 2021. 

Chris Dawson

JUDGE

MARKS & SPENCER'S

CHEESE BUYER

Chris has been the Cheese Buyer for M&S since January 2020, leading the Cheese Category transformation project as M&S modernise & expand the cheese assortment to meet our customers growing cheese needs.

 

He was previously a Specialist Cheese consultant for M&S and Cheese Buyer at Waitrose from 2003 through to 2019 where he developed a real passion for all things cheese and built an extensive cheese product knowledge & supplier relationships across the UK & Europe. Previous buying roles included Grocery & Non-Food at Waitrose.

Kelly Dowson

JUDGE

FOOD INNOVATIONS SOLUTIONS​

MANAGING DIRECTOR

Fiercely ambitious, Kelly is the driving force behind the FIS Group. F!S Group is a family of three businesses specialising in F&B innovation, research and growth acceleration.

 

Food Innovation Solutions, Good Sense Research and CUBO, come together to provide a suite of complimentary services in food and beverage innovation, strategic support and consumer research.


With a Food Science degree Kelly has spent the last 15 years working across foodservice and hospitality as well as retail and manufacturing, in both innovation and insight functions. 

David Evans

JUDGE

MILLBROOK DAIRY

DIRECTOR

David started his working career milking cows on a farm in Mid Wales before starting work on the shop floor at the local Dairy Crest cheese factory in Four Crosses. They made Cheshire and Caerphilly Cheese and during his time there David carried out most of the factory jobs from ‘cutting and turning curd’, making starter cultures, milk intake, press room to name but a few.

 

He then attended Reaseheath College to do C&G Dairy and then the OND in Food and Dairy technology. David then moved to Sturminster Newton cheddar Cheese factory in Dorset as Production Supervisor/Technical Manager before joining Pilgrims Choice in Wincanton Somerset where he took on all of the company grading and procurement and then became Trading Director at Ornua Leek before resigning in 2018 to start Millbrook Dairy Co with business partner Kevin Beer. 2 years in and they are turning over £20m selecting, buying and selling cheese.

 

On a personal front he is married to Kate who I met at Reaseheath and has two lovely children Lucy (24) and Gareth (23). They live in Mid Wales and have 2 labradors called Beth and Lottie.

Tanny Gill

JUDGE

CLARKS SPECIALITY FOODS LTD

HEAD OF CHEESE & RETAIL 

Tanny has been involved in cheese in the UK since 2004, and there’s no doubt that consumer knowledge and the demand for good quality artisan cheese has grown exponentially during that time.

 

Consumers are more aware and keener to support great quality local cheese makers, as well as the vast array of quality cheeses being made across the whole of the UK.

Terry Hudson

JUDGE

TERRY HUDSON CONSULTING

OWNER/DIRECTOR

Terry has worked in the dairy industry for nearly 50 years, most of that time in cheese. Starting on the shop floor involved in manufacture of many different dairy products and attending Reaseheath Agricultural College he progressed up the management chain to head up the Technical Division in the largest cheese company in the UK.

 

During his career he has been lucky enough to travel to many countries around the world involved in manufacture, imports & exports. He is well known to most of the smaller and farmhouse makers in the UK. Terry regularly judges at Cheese Shows, several of which the Trophy winners and Supreme Champions, involving UK & overseas cheese.

Louisa McCoy

MODERATOR

GOOD SENSE RESEARCH

RESEARCH MANAGER

Louisa has worked in market research for over 10 years, across several sectors including food and drink and travel retail, for several different brands. 

Bruce Macdonald

MODERATOR

BRUCE MACDONALD CONSULTING

OWNER

Bruce has worked in the cheese industry since 1975, full-time in grading since 1987. Self-employed since 2010. This allows him to provide a lot training which culminated in launching the Guild of Cheese Graders® in 2015.

Richard Newell

Nicky Philp

JUDGE

HARVEY & BROCKLESS

PURCHASING DIRECTOR

Nicky has worked with cheese for the last 30 years. Initially in her uncle’s deli & then was lucky enough to work with and visit many Cheese makers whilst working at Harvey & Brockless over the last 20 years.

COLLATOR

RICHARD NEWELL CHEESE & DAIRY SERVICES LTD.

OWNER

Richard commenced his career in the dairy industry in 1982. He has since held posts in production, quality, technical sales & process engineering. Working for small artisan family run businesses right up to the largest fully automated businesses he has a wealth of experience on all aspects of cheese making & sales.

 

He has developed a cheese that is now sold in the premium retailers and has previously advised major retailers on sourcing. He now runs his own consultancy and is currently managing a new artisan sheep’s cheese dairy project. https://richardnewell.co.uk

Holly Shackleton

JUDGE

SPECIALITY FOOD MAGAZINE

EDITOR

As editor of Speciality Food Magazine, Holly Shackleton has spent the past five years delving
appetite-first into the artisan cheese industry, and she is proud to have judged at industry awards
throughout that time.

 

She is passionate about educating consumers about the joys of great
cheese as well as supporting the cheesemakers that make the British cheese industry such an
exciting place to be.

Perry Wakeman

JUDGE

RENNET & RIND

HEAD OF CHEESE

Perry is a Certified MonS Affineur, working and studying under Hervé Mons, Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Artisan Craftsman of France), in the 9 MonS maturing cellars located in the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region. Perry currently holds the highest certification possible with the Academy of Cheese and is a regular contributor to the Academy's curriculum. He was asked to judge at the World Cheese Awards in Bergen, Norway in 2018 and again the following year in Bergamo as a Captain Judge.
 
Perry is ‘Head of Cheese’ at Rennet & Rind, responsible for maintaining the strong relationships we have with our British cheesemakers, regularly visiting them on the family farm to batch select our cheese. Perry also looks after our Rennet & Rind maturing room, using his expert knowledge to ensure every cheese that leaves us arrives to you at its very best.

Sam Wilkin

JUDGE

CELLARMAN

OWNER

Sam loves the wonderfully diverse world of cheese, the people who pour all their care and craft into making four raw ingredients into something extraordinary.

 

In his day job I am Head Cheesemonger at The Cheese Bar Group in London and an experienced cheesemonger working with some of the best in the business. He is also an accredited trainer with the Academy of Cheese offering the Level One: Associate qualification.  

The Academy of Cheese aims to bring a greater knowledge and appreciation of this delicious product to the public. Alongside his work in cheese he hosts The Cellarman Podcast focussing on cheese and cider. He is looking forward this year to producing a podcast series on one dairies journey towards a regenerative model of farming.

Emma Young

JUDGE

THE CHEESE EXPLORER

CHEESE CONSULTANT

Emma Young is a Cheese Specialist having worked in the industry for the past ten years.

She works with cheesemakers, wine bars/restaurants and cheese shop owners as well as consulting for new business openings. She has been a judge at the World Cheese Awards, International Cheese Awards, Global Cheese Awards and Great Taste Awards for several years as well as sitting on the supreme panel of the inaugural Virtual Cheese Awards last year.

 

She has a successful Instagram account ‘@thecheeseexplorer’ where she discovers and teaches about cheeses from around the world including many within the UK. She is an Academy of Cheese Member as well as an American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional.