Cheese as a food is pretty magic. First of all, it offers tons of possibilities. Whether you choose to eat it with a bit of butter and a piece of bread, melted on top of your pasta or in a fondue-form: the list of options is pretty much endless. Secondly, the multitude of different cheeses out there is simply astonishing. Every country, every region, every city even has its own specialties, made from all kinds of milk. Thirdly, it has the power to unite AND to divide. Because even though cheese lovers can be pretty enthusiastic, so can cheese haters – even though, honestly, they shouldn’t be allowed an opinion.
When we’re talking cheese, there are of course a couple of countries that immediately come to mind. First and foremost, there’s France. We don’t know how many different kinds of cheese are produced in the country but there’s probably thousands of them. From soft, fresh goat’s cheese over Camembert to Bleu: a French cheese platter rarely disappoints. Then, of course, there’s Holland, famous for their classic Gouda. You’ve got Italy with the mozzarella and parmesan, the United Kingdom with their cheddar and so on.
Sure, when you think of Belgium, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t cheese. Beer, yes, chocolate, sure, waffles, probably. Yet not cheese. A pity, because Belgian cheeses are actually quite grand and, speaking of beer, perfect as an accompaniment to your aperitif. And aside from Belgian cheeses, there’s also plenty of high-regarded cheese vendors around.
Best Cheesemaker in Belgium
And now we know which one of them is the best. During the “Best Cheesemaker in Belgium” competition (Concours officiel du Premier fromager de Belgique), which took place at the Eat Festival in the Gare Maritime in Brussels, five cheese vendors from all over the country battled to obtain the title. Julie Moulia (Le Plateau du Berger in Brussels), William Horlait (Julien Hazard Affineur in Brussels), Linda Foret (Clos du Gourmet in Liège), Benedicte Herlinvaux (Fromage & Cie in Bastogne) and Nathalie Van Kerckhove (Kaas-en zuivel Nathalie in Tielrode) competed against each other to become the best cheese vendor in Belgium.
The candidates were tested on different levels. Presentation of the cheese platter, cutting, degustation, advice, cheese pairing and general knowledge about cheese and other dairy products were put to the test. It was up to a jury, consisting of different cheese connoisseurs, bakers, chefs and sommeliers, to choose the very best of them. That title finally went to William Horlait, who follows in the footsteps of Véronique Socié of Fruitière in Brussels, who previously won the prize.