Jeffs’ Select Gouda from Caves of Faribault has won the 2013 sofi™ Award for Outstanding Cheese or Dairy Product from the Specialty Food Association. A sofi is the top honor in the $86 billion specialty food industry. “sofi” stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation.


Jeffs’ Select was one of 125 Finalists selected by a national panel of specialty food professionals from a record-setting 2,573 entries across 32 Awards categories including Outstanding Chocolate, Confection, and Snack Food. Winners were announced July 1, 2013, by internationally-acclaimed Chef Marcus Samuelsson at a red-carpet ceremony at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York.


“On behalf of the affinage team and management at Caves of Faribault we are delighted to accept this award,” notes Jeff Jirik, VP/GM of Natural Cheese for Swiss Valley Farms, the parent company of Caves of Faribault.  “It’s truly an honor for a great American cheese.”


Jeffs' Select is the result of a collaborative effort between Jirik and long-time friend Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Jeff Wideman.  It is Wideman who makes the cheese, which is then sent to Faribault for aging.  Unlike typical Goudas aged in cold temperatures, this American original is aged in the warm and humid environment of the caves.  The result is a full-bodied flavor with a classic European nuttiness and a hint of caramel.  Its annatto-rubbed rind gives it its vibrant orange color.


The sofi Awards are open to members of the Specialty Food Association, a not-for-profit trade association established in 1952 for food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs with more than 3,000 members in the U.S. and abroad. For more information on the association and its Fancy Food Shows, go to Learn more about the 2013 sofi Awards at


“With the most entries ever, the winners should be especially proud,” says Specialty Food Association President Ann Daw. “Their foods and beverages are wonderful examples of the craft, care and joy specialty food makers bring to their work.”