Lovera’s cheesemakers Shawn Duffy and Matteo Lovera-Pizano will take Lovera’s award-winning cheeses to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to attend the three-day American Cheese Society competition from July 25 until July 28.
This will be the sixth year for Lovera’s to compete in this competition against America’s finest cheeses.
The Lovera’s Handcrafted Food Market — which has been family owned and operated since 1946 and is located in Krebs — brought home three national awards last year and Head Cheesemaker Shawn Duffy said he feels confident the cheeses will win again.
“There are over 3,000 entries in this year’s competition,” Duffy said. “Last year we won first and second place for our smoked cheese. Hopefully, we do that well or even better this year.”
Duffy has a background in culinary arts and has advanced the way Lovera’s made and marketed its cheeses. He began entering the cheese in contests and has been working to expand and improve the cheese packaging facility, while also creating new varieties of cheeses.
Duffy began entering these contests in 2012 when the aged Caciocavera won second place in its category and the following year cave-aged Batista won third place and the braided Caciocavera took home top honors as well.
In last year’s competition in Denver, Colorado, Lovera’s won first place in the Smoked Cheese category for the Hickory Smoked Braided Caciocavera — which is hand-branded, salt-brined and slow-smoked with real hickory wood. Lovera also won second place in Smoked Caciocavera category for the Smoke Cacicocavera and third place in the Pasta Filata category for the Traditional Caciocavera, giving this legendary cheese its third national/international accolade.
Lovera’s has been awarded more than 14 national and international awards since 2012, firmly putting Oklahoma on the map for artisan cheese.
Duffy said this year he plans to enter nine different variety of cheeses in the competition.
“We are excited about our smoked cheeses again this year,” Duffy said. “We have some new ones we are bringing this year.”
Duffy said one of the new cheeses being brought to this year’s competition is a brand new cheese — which will not be released at the shop until October — a new rendition cow’s milk cheese called Tomina Vecchia.
“We also have our new blue cheese called ‘Blue Thunder,’” Duffy said. “I am excited to see how that one does.”
Duffy said the event will once again include cheesemakers from all over North America, food safety representatives, cheese retailers and more.
“I am excited for the opportunity to once again showcase our cheese and meet other cheesemakers,” Duffy said. “I like to reconnect with the people we have gotten to know and work with over the years.”
Duffy said Lovera’s will once again be part of the “Meet the Cheesemaker” program during the conference, which he said is an opportunity for cheesemakers to sample products and get to know the people behind the product.
“We will have a chance to meet premier artisan cheesemakers from all over the country,” Duffy said. “It’s a great chance to get our cheese in front of buyers and distributors and retailers alike.”
By Lacey Sudderth, Mcalester News Capital, Jul 24, 2018