Interview with Marie-Claude Harvey of Fromagerie FX Pichet, producer of Le Baluchon, Canadian Cheese of the Year and Best Organic Cheese in the inaugural Awards:
How has winning Cheese of the Year helped your business?
This has increased our visibility overnight. There have been many articles and television broadcasts. It was the first edition of the Canadian Cheese Awards and very well covered in the media across Canada. In Québec, we received lots of press and a 4-minute spot on l’Épicerie, the popular TV show from Radio Canada.
Did you sell more cheese?
Oh, my God, our orders doubled the day after the Awards! Buyers are confident that we manufacture quality products. This reputation is now widely recognized.
Have you expanded your market?
Yes, our market has expanded in Ontario and also in western Canada. Now, we sell our products throughout the country.
What were your thoughts when you heard the announcement: Baluchon, Cheese of the Year?
I was so surprised, I did not expect it at all. A very big surprise at first, and later, I still do not have words to express the happiness inside me, and how very proud I am of my team. Winning the first edition of a competition that features 100% whole milk cheeses produced in Canada, milk from cows, goats, sheep or buffalo—without modified milk ingredients, that was a wonderful feeling. To be recognized as overall champion among so many exceptional Canadian cheeses, it renewed our passion, and reinvigorated our business.
What other good things happened to you?
It was a memorable evening. The Awards showcased our quality products made by our passionate people of Mauricie. Our region is now a gourmet destination, a land to discover.
I also enjoyed beautiful experiences with all the competition team. Truly, many enriching encounters. The initiative shown by the team behind the Awards must be recognized. When the producer of the Canadian Cheese Award handed us a cheque for $5,000, in addition to the trophy, that was great and very helpful.
When you decided to enter the competition, did you expect to win a prize?
When we entered, we hoped to win one of the categories like semi-soft cheese or organic cheese. When we participate in a competition, we think we have a certain percentage chance of winning a class or even a nomination. Believe me, Baluchon has a history of winning.
First, you won the best organic cheese category. Were you happy?
Of course! We are very proud to produce organic cheeses. So it’s a real victory for people passionate about cheesemaking the way we are to win such an award. Winning reinforces our conviction that we are going in the right direction and we offer a product that has a good value. Making organic products requires patience. There is no magic solution, you have to work with nature whether in the fields or with the herd.
—Interview by Nathalie Schofield
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