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Judging the ADGA
Original article was published online at Soap Queen
The Official Blog of Brambleberry
My friend and amazing soapmaker Kathryn Hackney
shares her experience judging the
American Dairy Goat
Convention Competition in Boise, ID this past October.
She also includes some tips from the judges at the end of
the post. Enjoy! -Anne-Marie PS – Longtime readers may
remember previous posts (here,
here) about the ADGA convention and judging. I’m still
dreaming about their (goat) cheese tables!
I flew into Boise and did two full days of judging on
Tuesday and Wednesday, and flew out on Thursday morning.
However, the convention is HUGE. It goes from October 13th
through the 20th. There was even a tent full of goats in the
parking lot (had to check it out!), which were auctioned off
inside the hotel on Friday. The people in this association
are warm and kind, very much like the participants at soap
conventions I’ve attended. Silvia from
SV Indulgence Soap was
also judging, and we got along so well, laughing about who’s
turn it was to lick the soap next for the alkali test.
Judging for a body product is like repeatedly performing spa
treatments on yourself all day, and obsessively washing and
lathering up. There were lots of “ooo’s and aaaah’s” and
giggles. All of the products had to contain goat milk, and
we tested everything from cold process bar soap, to lotion,
to bath fizzies. Our very favorite product of the entire
room was a scrub, surprisingly. When you don’t want to stop
using it, you know it’s a winner. There was also a new
category this year called “Creative”, which featured entries
with gorgeous swirls and darling packaging. The
“Miscellaneous” category was also fun to test, as we had a
dog shampoo bar, poison ivy treatment soap, psoriasis cream,
and liquid soap among others.
The amount of entries was small in comparison to other
years, so pass on the word! If you make products
with goat milk, you should be entering in this fun event.
A couple of tips from the judges:
1) We would love to
see more packaging! We are looking for the complete
look and ingredients listed is helpful for us to provide
feedback. Plus, packaging is important in this event because
it sets your product apart from the rest. You can include
everything except your personal information.
2) When using goat milk in your product, be
very patient when incorporating it and use iced milk as not
to scald or burn it. A creamy white product is very
3) The bars with color caught our
4) Keep the presentation clean. We were
really drawn to soap that was cut straight, beveled, and had
that little extra effort added.
5) Test it first. We lather up each bar of
soap and look for foam stability and big, lasting bubbles.
Does it wash off well and leave your hands silky smooth, or
is their a little too much oil in your recipe? Make your own
little competition in your home and have friends and family
test them out. You’ll get ahead by refining your
recipe in advance.
If you or anyone you know makes goat milk products,
let them in on this fun opportunity to strut their stuff.Plus,
there are numerous classes on all things goat, including
cheese making and healing with aromatherapy if you go to the
convention. You do not have to be present at the convention
to enter your soap so consider this for 2013.
2014 Breeders in the
Allison Hooper '81
(left) and Bob Reese founded Vermont Creamery with a
commitment to sustainability, and their high-quality
dairy products have received awards across the
What began as a trip to France for Allison Hooper ’81 as a
College student transformed into a lifelong passion for
dairy farming and the cofounding of Vermont Creamery, one of
the premier dairies in America and the winner of more than
100 national and international awards.
Located in Websterville, Vt., the creamery sends its
high-quality goat and cow milk products everywhere from
farmers markets to acclaimed French chefs.
Hooper helped start the company just three years after
graduation from Connecticut College, but her foray into
cheese-making began during her junior year. Studying French in
Paris, Hooper decided to extend her stay into her senior
year to further immerse herself in the culture. The only
problem: finding a place to stay for the summer while school
was out of session.
Stuck in a foreign country with no immediate plan, she
accepted an offer to live on a family-owned dairy farm in
the Brittany region of France. It was there, immersed with
French-speaking locals, that she developed her language
skills — but also an ability to make cheese.
“It wasn’t intentional,” Hooper says. “I certainly didn’t
have cheese-making in mind when I went abroad.”
A few years later, however, those skills came into good use.
Working at a dairy lab in rural Vermont in 1984, Hooper was
contacted by Bob Reese, who was planning a dinner event
using local agricultural products but had no locally made
cheese. In short order, Hooper whipped up some chèvre from
scratch and saved the day.
From that moment, the idea of Vermont Creamery was born.
With only $1,200, Reese and Hooper quit their jobs and began
operations out of a converted milk house 30 years ago. “Not
having something to fall back on really forced us to push
hard for success,” Hooper said.
What set the company apart from the beginning was its focus
on artisanal cheese that used natural, farm-to-table
ingredients. Hooper said Americans weren’t really consuming
products like goat cheese, and the company was part of a
movement that has now taken over the food industry.
“It was a very big challenge, especially for a 25-year-old
woman, to establish goat dairying as legitimate farming in
those early days,” she says.
Getting in at the start of the natural foods trend allowed
Hooper to cultivate her business’s brand. One of the driving
principles behind the creamery’s mission has been
sustainability. To Hooper, this means thinking globally and
acting locally; Vermont Creamery is B Corp-certified, a
qualification that is to sustainable business what Fair
Trade is to coffee. Companies with this certification must
meet high standards of social and environmental performance,
accountability and transparency. Other B Corp participants
include Ben & Jerry’s, Etsy and Patagonia.
Vermont Creamery is also home to the largest rooftop solar
system in Vermont, and is looking for new ways to reduce its
carbon footprint. “In the future, we’d like to invest in
converting our waste into energy that would power our
creamery,” Hooper says.
And through a new collaboration with the Evergreen
Conservative Partnership, Hooper has established a model
commercial goat dairy, a project aimed at introducing
potential and established farmers to goat dairying.
With a résumé that includes a wide array of skills, from
goat milking to business management, Hooper points to her
College education as an essential part of her professional
and personal development.
“I believe a liberal arts education teaches you how to
think. It teaches you how to solve problems and how to
relate to all kinds of people,” she said. Hooper adds that
her French skills have also come in handy when working with
world-class chefs and restaurateurs, as speaking their
language gives her more credibility.
Oh, and the cheese? Hooper does have a favorite. “I love
comté. It’s nicknamed ‘King of Cheese,’ and symbolizes
traditional methods and community.”
It’s a fitting choice for a woman who took an untraditional
path to create a thriving business with a social conscience.
- Sophia Mitrokostas ’15
Awards and Honors:
Another Cheese Win for Split Creek
February, we crossed our fingers. hoped for the best, and entered our
feta cheese in the 2010
World Championship Cheese Contest held in Madison, Wisconsin. In March, we were
notified that we had won a Gold
Medal in our class! This year's contest had the highest number of cheese
and butter entries ever judged in this contest - over 2300 entries divided into
79 classes. Twenty nations were represented in the contest. Split Creek Farm
feta in oil won gold over several European cheese makers.
Evans, owner of Split Creek says, “We’ve known our cheese is wonderful, but it
is nice to have this type of affirmation from international judges. We are
thrilled to be able to offer our winning cheeses to our community at a time when
customers are seeking local foods”.
winners in the goat cheese categories are as follows:
Soft Goat's Milk Cheeses
Adeline Druart and Team
Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery
Best of Class
Ray Smith and Team
Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery
Central Quesera Montesinos, S.L.
Capricho de Cabra Natural
Flavored Soft Goat's Milk
Splilt Creek Farm, LLC
Best of Class
Split Creek Farm Farmstead Goat Feta
Miquel Vives Vinyals
Quesos De Cati
Cati Panoleta rosemary
Central Quesera Montesinos, S.L.
Cabra al Romero
Hard Goat's Milk Cheeses
Friesland Campina Cheese
For more information on the
competition please go to the
World Champion Cheese Competition website
Check out the new cheese
Goat Cheese Info:
History of Goat Cheese Pyramids