As anticipation builds for the 29th annual World Cheese Awards, which is being held in San Sebastián this year as part of the International Cheese Festival, awards organiser, the Guild of Fine Food, is delighted to officially announce its first judge for 2016, Andrea Power of Hatchman's Premium Cheeses, the only cheesemaker in the whole of Barbados. The Barbadian producer's trip to the Basque Country will be sponsored by Cobblers Cove, a luxury retreat on Barbados' west coast, as part the celebrations being held to mark 50 Years of Independence for this small and proud nation.

As well as taking her place at the Kursaal Congress Centre alongside over 250 other expert judges from every corner of the globe, Andrea will also be entering her own cheese into a competition for the very first time. Taught by her father, Andrea began making cheese just four years ago in response to concerns from the island's dairy farmers about milk quotas and poor sales. In 2014, Andrea established Hatchman's Premium Cheeses, having developed methods to overcome the natural challenges of cheesemaking in a country that stays hot all year round, harnessing solar power to help with the costs of temperature control.

Now producing a wide variety of cheese, including a Brie made from goat's and cow's milk, a sorrel and herb flavoured Chevre, a rosemary goat's Cheddar, a Cheddar-style Scotch Bonnet Jack and Tev's Blue, a coastal blue cheese developed by Andrea's production assistant, Tevin, the team at Hatchman's Premium Cheeses is hugely excited by the prospect of lining up against 3,000 of the finest cheeses from across the world, in the largest cheese-only awards scheme on the planet.

Andrea explains: “It's a huge honour to be representing Barbados at the World Cheese Awards in San Sebastián and such a great opportunity to promote our cheesemaking on a global stage. I can't say it's a dream come true, because I never even conceived of something like this ever happening to me, but I'm extremely excited and will probably be giddy-headed for a little while yet! I believe that the future of Barbadian cheesemaking will begin with the World Cheese Awards, when we show the world that a tiny dot half way around the globe, with less than 300,000 people, has got super yummy cow and goat's milk that can make cheeses that are sought after by the most discerning of palates. It's extra special to begin this journey during the 50th anniversary of our independence, which will be officially marked in Barbados on 30 November, just a few days after I return.”

John Farrand, Managing Director of the Guild of Fine Food, adds: “We are thrilled to have Andrea joining us this year in San Sebastián, bringing yet another country into the fold, and would like to offer our sincere thanks to Cobblers Cove for helping to make this happen. The World Cheese Awards already attracts more cheeses and judges from more countries than any other competition, so we're delighted to be extending its reach still further as we head to Europe's unofficial culinary capital. This event represents a huge opportunity for small producers across the world to put the fruits of their labour in front of food professionals, journalists, buyers, retailers, consumers and tourists, while also bringing together the global cheese community each year to share ideas, inspire each other and celebrate excellence in cheese. Having had the pleasure of meeting Andrea on a trip to Barbados last year, we know she's a passionate producer with a huge character, and have no doubt that she will bring a lot to our wonderful cheese community.”

Will Oakley, General Manager at Cobblers Cove, the only Relais & Châteaux on Barbados, comments: “We are delighted to have an opportunity to sponsor Andrea to attend the 2016 World Cheese Awards is San Sebastián. We are proud to promote a 100% locally produced cheeseboard at Cobblers Cove and believe Hatchman's Cheeses now deserve recognition on a world stage. In the year of Barbados' celebration of 50 Years of Independence, nothing could make us prouder than to support a local artisan food producer from this tiny island, to demonstrate the quality of the Barbados food offering.”

During San Sebastián's tenure as European Capital of Culture, when the city shines a spotlight on its cultural richness and world class cuisine, on Wednesday 16 November the World Cheese Awards will add a stage for cheese-making excellence. Forming part of the International Cheese Festival between 16-18 November 2016, the world's largest cheese only awards scheme will bring together 3,000 of the world's finest artisan cheeses in the Kursaal Congress Centre, as 250 expert judges gather from every corner of the globe.