Good Food Awards will be given to the tastiest artisan and farmstead cheeses in the categories of Fresh, Semi-Soft, Semi-Hard, Hard, and Yogurt. Cheeses and yogurts that meet the standards for entry are made using good animal husbandry, without the use of hormones, and without the use of synthetic inputs on the pastures.


The Good Food Awards rely on the expertise of the cheese community to create the tasting, determine judges and set standards for the category. Read on to learn who has been integral to building the category, as well as what the cheese standard are and who will be judging this year.



Samantha Chertoff

Owner at Casein Point Cheese – San Francisco, CA

Samantha Chertoff is the owner of Casein Point Cheese, providing sales management for artisan cheese producers. Samantha utilizes her industry background to help smaller dairies succeed in a rapidly changing and growing market. A judge at the Good Food Awards years ago and co-chair of the Cheese committee for 2019, she is honored to be co-chairing again in 2020.

Liza Kaplansky

National Sales Manager at Sweet Grass Dairy – San Francisco, CA

Liza recently took on the role of National Sales Manager for celebrated cheese producer, Sweet Grass Dairy. She previously acted as the Cheese Buyer at Canyon Market in San Francisco and was a finalist at the Winter 2014 Cheesemonger Invitational. She spent the last 5+ years working in sales management for cheese producers Laura Chenel/Marin French, and Consider Bardwell Farm. Liza acts as a member of the California Artisan Cheese Guild ‘SF Cheese Fest’ planning committee and has spoken on panels at the American Cheese Society conference. She is very excited to be co-chairing the Cheese committee with Samantha Chertoff in 2020.

Committee Members

Izzy Craveling, Cheese Specialist, Peterson Cheese Company
Kelly Moore
, Sales Specialist, Tomales Bay Foods
Rachel Perez, Sales Specialist, Tony’s Fine Foods


In order to be eligible for a Good Food Award, cheese entries must meet the following standards:

  • Made in the USA or US territories.
  • Made by the entrant’s own company, with milk from animals raised using good animal husbandry* with access to the outdoors.
  • Made without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fungicides or fertilizers on the pastures.
  • Made without hormones or sub-therapeutic antibiotics.
  • Made with rBGH-free milk.
  • Made with sustainable repurposing of byproducts, such as whey, where possible.
  • Made with milk from animals fed local, GM-free feed where available. Where it is not, the crafter is invested in being an agent of change towards greater availability, by working with suppliers and local granges, vocalizing their interest in this type of local feed if and when it becomes available.**
  • Made with other ingredients, such as rennet, starter cultures, yogurt additions, herbs and washes that are sourced domestically or locally (where possible) and produced without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers and non-GMO.
  • Made by a crafter that is an upstanding member of the good food community, oriented toward growing their business in harmony with a better food system.

*The Good Food Foundation will refer to GAP Level 5 guidelines to define “good animal husbandry” should there be any questions as to eligibility based on this criterion.

**Our intention is that producers make their best efforts to balance the realities of feed supplies with the ideals of responsible and sustainable production methods.


Additionally, cheese entries must fit within one of the following subcategories:

  • Fresh
  • Semi-Soft
  • Semi-Hard
  • Hard
  • Yogurt


Sheana Davis

Proprietor, Chef & Cheesemaker, The Epicurean Connection

Ahmet Aydogan

Owner/CEO, Gourmet Walks

Gayle DeCaro

Category Manager Specialty Cheese, Gelson's

John Nava

Director of Specialty Foods & Cheese Buyer, Sigona's Farmers Market

Steve Jones

Owner, Cheese Bar

Kathleen Shannon Finn

Founder, Cheese Diva Essentials

Kenneth Bakke

Cheesemonger, Oakville Grocery

Catherine Machado

Sales Director, Negranti Creamery

Sisi Dancer

Specialty Food Department Manager, Good Earth Natural Foods, Fairfax

Laura Downey

ACS CCP. Owner and Cheesemonger, Fairfield & Greenwich Cheese Companies

Carl Ipsen

Professor of History, Director IU Food Institute, Indiana University

Kate Kirkwood

West Coast Manager, Isigny Ste-Mere

Windy Dorrestyn

Vice President/ Marketing Director, Penguin Random House

Jon Marsh

Owner, St. Kilian's Cheese Shop

Patrick Bleck

Owner, Specialty Food Sherpa

Emily Darchuk

Owner, Wheyward Spirit

Cang Ta

Northern California Regional Cheese Buyer , Whole Foods Market

Bonnie Kaufman

Category Development Specialist, LA & SF Specialty

Molly Brownson

Senior Account Manager, Tony's Fine Foods

Janet Tarlov

Co-Owner, Canyon Market

Kenneth Walczak

Freelance Writer

Debra Dickerson

Wholesale Sales Directory, Tomales Bay Foods

Felice Charlton

Cheese Specialist, The Chefs Warehouse

Alexandra Fox

Owner, Food & Farm Tours