William Horlait, from Julien Hazard cheesemonger in Uccle, won the 7th edition of the Best Cheesemaker in Belgium competition on Sunday.
The competition took place at the Eat Festival held at the Gare Maritime in Brussels. The winner was decided after several events spanning the entire afternoon.
These included presentation of a platter, cutting, tasting, advice, combination of cheeses with wine or beer, but also knowledge of cheeses and dairy products in general (history, manufacturing, regulation).
Four other candidates were in the running: Julie Moulia from Plateau du Berger in Ixelles, Linda Foret from Clos du Gourmet in Liège, Benedicte Herlinvaux from Fromage & Cie in Bastogne and Nathalie Van Kerckhove from Kaas-en zuivel Nathalie in Tielrode.
The jury included Belgian and foreign cheese experts as well as representatives of other catering trades (restaurant owner, pastry chef, wine steward), the 2017 World Cheesemaker Champion and 2012 Best Belgian Female Cheesemaker Nathalie Vanhaver.
The last edition, held in 2016, was won by Véronique Socié of La Fruitière, located in downtown Brussels. This year's edition came after a number of Covid-induced postponements.
This is the third approved competition of this nature, after Best Wine Steward and Best Chef of Belgium. The aim is to uplift the profession of craftsman and its products, according to the Federation of Belgian Cheesemakers, which created the competition in 2006.
The Brussels gastronomic event 'Eat Festival' began on Thursday at the Gare Maritime de Tour & Taxis station. For four days, more than 20,000 dishes and 18,000 beer, cocktail and wine tastings were provided by 60 artisans - chefs, cheese makers, pastry chefs, mixologists and brewers - who took turns sharing their knowledge and skills.
The next edition of the Eat Festival will take place at the Gare Maritime in September 2023.