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.



Debra Dickerson

Cheese Educator, Cheese Lover & Consultant to Cheesemakers, 3D Cheese

 Education has always been a part of sustainable sales growth, and Debra has been connecting cheesemakers and cheese mongers through story telling since 2000. Debra started 3D Cheese and traveled the states building market recognition and sales for emerging cheese producers including Neal’s Yard. Dairy, Jasper Hill Farm, Redwood Hill Farm, Avonlea, and Cowgirl Creamery. Debra is an advocate for positive action taken by dairy to slow climate change, humane animal treatment and the human benefits from animal nutrition. She is a member of the Guild du Fromage, California Artisan Cheese Guild and the American Cheese Society. She is the proud recipient of the American Cheese Society Lifetime Achievement Award.

Felice Thorpe

Founder, Felice Foods

Felice Thorpe is the owner of a sales consulting company, Felice Foods. She brings a history of building and scaling brands with regional and national product launches. She has served as the president of the California Artisan Cheese Guild, Judge, and Chairperson for the cheese category for the Good Food Awards. Her past experience working for a national specialty foods distributor informs her unique perspective to help craft food brands grow.

Committee Members

2024 Judges

Carlos Souffront

Cheese Specialist, UNFI

Karen Sims

Inside Sales Cheese & Specialty, Tony's Fine Foods

Gian Marco Cosmi

Chef / Owner, Ciccino

Michael Zilber

General Manager, Heidrun Meadery

Andy Fitzgerrell

Sales Director, Sach Foods

Clare Apps

Procurement, New Last Bottle

Matthew Zehnder

Sales & Operations Manager, Fresca Italia

Marine Dorotte

West Coast Sales Director, Interval

Maureen Cunnie

Business Development, Fromagex

Karna Murphy

Owner, Downtown Bakery and Creamery

Sarah Dvorak

Director - Northern California, Gourmet Imports

Maddy Coggins

Brand Manager, Clover Sonoma

Stephanie Jordan

West Coast Sales Manager, Worlds Best Cheeses West

Meghan Martino

Event Producer, DPEM

Nicolette Lounibos

Culinary Manager, Valley Bar and Bottle

Ray Bair

Owner, Cheese Plus

Tracey Shepos

Executive Chef and Cheese Specialist, Jackson Family Wines


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, committed to equity and inclusion in all levels of their business,*** as exemplified through integrating these  practices:
    • Creating a safe and healthy work environment where employees receive a fair wage, are safe and respected at work and have access to the resources they need to keep themselves healthy.
    • Offering a diversity, equity, and inclusion training to staff members and/or leadership annually.
    • Thoughtfully acknowledging the heritage of culturally-specific food on websites, packaging and/or marketing materials.
    • For the small percentage of Good Food community that operates on a significantly larger scale, meeting additional criteria related to board diversity, maternity leave and employment practices.***

*The Good Food Foundation will ask producers to provide The National Dairy FARM Program certification or equivalent documentation of animal care.
**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.
***Check if you are in the 2% of companies meeting the Good Food Foundation definition of large scale, and review the addition criteria on the Rules & Regulations page.


Additionally, cheese entries must fit within one of the following subcategories (vegetarian and/or vegan substitutes are permitted):

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