Emilio’s winning cheese
by Ann van Engelen
A holiday from Italy in 2003 marked the beginning of a cheese maker’s dream for Emilio Festa and his family who now reside in Aylesbury.
Emilio recently won silver medals for his sheep and cow’s cheese in the New Zealand Cheese Awards, adding to his collection of accomplishments during recent years.
“Competing is good because I have good weekly feedback from our customers at the farmers’ markets and want the judges’ opinions of what I am creating. In 2014, I won the award for the Best Fresh Cheese in New Zealand, and we won gold, silver and bronze medals last year.”
Emilio now creates more than 25 different cheeses.
“Every year, I present something different in competitions. In Italy cheese is an important food item and the shops have everything from fresh to aged and different flavours. My target is to have the same products available here.
“The cheese making world is wonderful. It is something you do with love and passion to obtain the best results. To European people, cheese is part of our history, and in the Roman times, it is what the soldiers were paid with.
We discovered blue cheese when mould got inside by mistake. It is amazing how it has progressed over time.
“We specialise in what we are doing and have a very good supplier of milk.
I make cheese once or twice a day, every day. We sell through the farmers’ markets to give our customers the best price possible as we reduce packaging and waste. People taste the cheese freshly cut and purchase the quantity they require wrapped in paper or paper bags. We also have a selection of Italian finger foods that my wife makes.
“We are at the Ohoka market every Friday, Riccarton Bush every Saturday and Opawa on Sunday. Fortnightly we attend Lincoln on Saturday and Oxford on Sundays.“