There was plenty of cheesy goodness on offer at Armstrong’s 2023 The Big Cheese festival, which wrapped up Saturday, April 15.
A signature part of the festivities was the Professional Grilled Cheese Competition, which saw eight restaurants and organizations in Armstrong craft a delectable grilled cheese sandwich for the chance to be crowned champion.
The people have spoken: the winner of the Professional Grilled Cheese Competition People’s Choice award was the Wild Oak Café, which offered a sandwich called The Mulberry, featuring fig jam, black pepper bacon, brie, Gouda and mozzarella cheese on rye sourdough.
It’s not the first time Wild Oak has won; the café also took home the title in 2016 and 2022.
The Wild Oak Café was followed closely by Country Manor Kitchen and PV Blvd Coffee.
“Comments on the voting cards showed that everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves tasting all these amazing concoctions that showed lots of creativity,” said Carol Hill-Lonergan, with the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce.
The media’s choice for Best Professional Grilled Cheese was Farmstrong Cider Co. The Wild Oak was the media’s second choice.
The amateur grilled cheese contest was again won by crowd favourite Bridget Kirkland, who won the judges over with tasty ingredients and perfectly melted cheese.
“The Triple Cheese Grilled Cheese by Bridget was filled with cheddar, Gruyere and parmesan cheese plus caramelized onions and apples,” said Patti Ferguson, long time event volunteer. “Then the flavored butter on the outside put it over the edge.”
Cheeseball judges also had a tough time deciding a winner, but in the end they awarded the top prize to Rhonda Keating who offered up a savoury cranberry pistachio cheese log, and Hill-Lonergan with a sweet cake batter cheeseball surprise.
This year, the Food and Buyer Expo — an industry-only event for vendors to mingle with buyers — was again held on Friday evening, April 14.
Highlights of the evening were presentations by Calista Drury of Milky Way 4H with her Communication Challenge speech, and the Reimersma family who introduced their new venture, Udderly Ice Cream.
With over 40 slow food producers including cheese producers, cheese pairing workshops hosted by David Beaudoin with Dairy Farmers of Canada, live music and lots of tasting opportunities, more than 1,600 people enjoyed the daytime event at Hassen Arena Saturday, April 15.
This was followed by a sold-out Ambassador Dinner Saturday evening where guests were served seven courses, each pairing a delicious cheese, slow food and spirits.
For more information on the Wild Oak Café, visit their website.