CACHE COUNTY – Four local bakers took home bragging rights and/or prizes from the Cache Valley Cheese & Daily Festival on Sept. 4.
They were the winners of the inaugural Best Cheesecake in the County contest held during that event, according to Julie Hollist Terrill, the director of the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau.
Amy Asper of Hyrum bested 42 other contest entrants to win top honors for her honey peach cheesecake. She won $500 in prizes purchased by Schreiber Foods from the Love to Cook kitchen store.
Second place in the contest went to Suzanne Ghaffari of Smithfield for her lemon raspberry cheesecake, along with $300 in prize merchandise.
Also from Smithfield, Julie Housley took third place honors and $200 in prize merchandise for her classic New York cheesecake.
A special honorable mention was awarded to 13-year-old Xandria Falor of Logan for her maple bacon recipe, only the second cheesecake she’d ever made.
Terrill explained that contest entries were judged on taste, texture, originality and appearance of their recipes, with bonus points awarded for each local ingredient included in their entries. All participants were provided with 32 ounces of Schreiber cream cheese to incorporate into their recipes.
“We were thrilled and shocked by the amount of support and participation for this first year (of the cheesecake contest),” she added. “It was fun to see the diversity of ages (of participants) and the creativity behind their cheesecakes.”
The contest was open only to amateur bakers who were residents of Cache County. The entries ranged from recipes for dark chocolate raspberry swirl, peanut butter chocolate, blackberry lime, strawberry blossom to a brie cheesecake with tomato caramel sauce.
Terrill acknowledged that the contest judges were “a bit overwhelmed” since they had to taste and analyze each of the 43 contest entries.
The highly qualified judges of the contest were Joy Brisighella, co-creator of Spice on Ice and administrator of the Logan Foodies Facebook pages; Margaret Gittins, owner of Smackerel catering; Sharon Sorensen, a certified World Food Championship Judge; John Spencer, the prepared foods and deli food service director for all Lee’s Marketplace stores; and Jonathon Walters, culinary arts instructor at Bridgerland Technical College and a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu.
The Best Cheesecake in the County contest was one of numerous attractions at the first annual Cache Valley Cheese & Dairy Festival held over the Labor Day weekend. That event was a cooperative effort by dairy farmers, dairy produce manufacturers, the Utah State University Extension Service, the Dairy Farmers of America, Cache County and the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau.