“The taste is in the fat”… The Swiss triumph at the first World Raclette Championship

The dish may well be one of the most popular in France, France can go and get dressed. This weekend, the scent of melted cheese enveloped Morgins, a village in Valais (Switzerland) which prides itself on being the cradle of raclette. It was in this Alpine setting that the first Raclette World Championships. And the astonishing competition ended on Sunday with an almost total triumph of Swiss know-how.

Raclette, which embodies Switzerland in the same way as fondue, chocolate and banks, was born several centuries ago when shepherds heated cheese near a wood fire and scraped off the melted part for sustenance. But never in all this time have producers, experts and restaurateurs come together under the same roof to designate the best raclette in the world.

Nearly 90 raclette cheese producers made the trip. “All these people are small producers who go up with their cows to the mountain pastures at the beginning of summer,” explained Henri-Pierre Galletti, one of the founders of the event. “For them it’s a way of promoting their work, which is hard work but which is so beautiful,” he enthused. Morgins, nestled at more than 1,300 meters above sea level in a wooded valley not far from the French border, also welcomed nearly 10,000 raclette enthusiasts who came to watch the competition.

The judges combine up to 15 cheeses

This Saturday, in the kitchen of the village village hall, half-wheels of cheese are placed under electric raclette grills. The cooking time varies depending on the cheese and is determined by sight. When the first bubbles appear, but before it browns, the cheese is scraped and served to the jurors. “The taste is in the fat,” explains one of the “scrapers,” Jean-Michel Dubosson, while scraping another portion with the back of his knife. “It’s especially important not to heat it too quickly. »

While the kitchen comes alive, a respectful silence reigns in the room where the judges wrap the cheese around the fork with a deft flick of the wrist before tasting it. “We are looking for a raclette that is creamy, smooth, has a beautiful appearance, a beautiful color,” explains Eddy Baillifard. And “the pope of raclette” continues: “In terms of taste, a beautiful texture, no wire, no rope, no gum”.

Judges taste a maximum of 15 cheeses per session, before their senses are overwhelmed. Hot black tea or apple slices allow you to refresh your palate and start again. .

Tricolor silver medal

There were three categories: raw alpine milk raclette, raw milk raclette and the other raclette cheeses category. All the prizes were won by Helvetians with the exception of EARL Les Noisetiers, coming from neighboring France, from Leschaux in Haute-Savoie. The French won the silver medal in the premier category of raw alpine milk.

Although the majority of competitors came from Switzerland or France, teams from Belgium, Canada, Italy and Romania were also in the running. And the next edition should see producers from the United Kingdom, Japan, Norway, Sweden and even Kyrgyzstan.

“It’s a great pleasure to be here, to represent Romania, for us it’s a great thing,” said Narcis Pintea, 34, who learned his trade in Switzerland before returning to the country. “There are several ingredients that make raclette so enjoyable, but the main thing is the people you share it with. When you have good company, raclette is already 80% successful,” he said.

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