Formatges Muntanyola, a small Catalan company with a humanitarian vocation, has won a gold medal at the World Cheese Awards 2022 for its semi-cured goat cheese and a bronze medal for its beer-washed eco-friendly cow’s milk cheese. But for the company, the most beautiful reward is having succeeded in integrating people with disabilities into the craft of cheesemaking.
The World Cheese Awards event is a competition organized every year in the United Kingdom by the Guild of Fine Food, a British gastronomic society. The event gives prizes to the best cheeses from around the world, and the 2022 winners were announced on November 3. More than 4,000 cheeses from 42 countries competed in front of a panel of 250 experts from 38 countries who met for two days in Newport, Wales.
It’s a very serious event, which explains the pride of the whole team of Formatges Muntanyola, located in the suburbs of Barcelona. They are happy to see that their work can serve as an example to others who want to give employment opportunities to people with disabilities.
Anna Prado, the manager of Formatges Muntanyola, explained the significance of this achievement:
“They are a recognition of the effort, dedication, and hard work of the whole team of this humanitarian project, which began almost 10 years ago.”
This cheese factory belongs to a charitable organization — the Ampans Foundation — which since 1965 has been caring for people with intellectual disabilities and accompanying vulnerable people in precarious situations through different projects, including this one.
These two medals reward the work as well as the integration of its employees. Regarding the gold medal, the experts of the international jury emphasized that Garrotxa cheese is the best in the world in its category because of “its slow maturation, which gives off an aroma of fresh milk. Its texture is creamy and its taste is soft and pleasant to the palate.” The bronze medal was awarded to Lúpulus, an eco-friendly cow’s milk cheese, which is cured for six months and has a beer-washed rind.
And while the title of “best cheese in the world” is awarded to the Swiss Gruyère, the French can console themselves a little: out of the top 16, three cheeses come from France!