Artisan and commercial bakers vied for top honors in the California Raisin Marketing Board's (CRMB) second annual baking competition at AIB International in Manhattan, Kan., Oct. 9-10. The 30 competitors were professional and student bakers from across the country.
In the artisan category, Larry Lobe, Dawn Food Products, Phoenix, won the grand prize for his Sicilian raisin bread. Ronald Guerrero, Caravan Ingredients, Lenexa, Kan., took the top prize in the commercial category for his Natural Swirl raisin bread with 50% more raisins.
“The California Raisin Marketing Board believes it is important for the baking world to have this type of event to showcase the skill and passion of the working baker,” said Larry Blagg, senior vice president of marketing, CRMB. “Our contest is aimed at discovering the best and most creative California raisin breads, and in our second year of the competition I continue to be astounded with the innovation and quality of the products created by these professional and student bakers.”
Of the 30 finalists, a total of 12 winners were chosen to participate in an all-expense paid visit to California to experience the growing areas and production of California raisins, and enjoy California cuisine and wines at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena.
Additional winners in the artisan category include:
Judges' prize: Mitch Stamm, Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I., for his California Gold Rush bread; and Charles Niedermyer, Pennsylvania College of Technology, State College, for his Dueling Raisins bread.
Ideas prize: Luminita Cirstea, Kendall College, Phoenix, for her Golden Gate bread; and Philippe Sanchez, Marriott International, Orlando, Fla., for his raisin walnut blue cheese sourdough pave.
In the commercial category, additional winners included:
Judges' prize: Coila Farrell, Kansas State University, Manhattan, for her Golden Harvest raisin bread with toasted walnuts; and Eric Spelger, Caravan Ingredients, Lenexa, Kan., for his all natural, 100% whole wheat raisin bread.
Ideas prize: Jerome Davis, Cargill Integrated Bakery Resources, Lake Oswego, Ore., for his Oregon Trail cinnamon vanilla raisin bread; and Feng Xie, Caravan Ingredients, for her Bubble raisin bread.
Each baker was required to prepare and present his or her raisin bread to a panel of judges. Presentations included the origin of the product idea, why various ingredients were used, why the product was given its name and the retail price of the product.
The artisan judges included Ciril Hitz, Johnson & Wales University; Klaus Tenbergen, California State University-Fresno; and Dominique Homo, Ecole du Pain, Montreal, Canada.
The third annual America's Best Raisin Bread Contest will kick off in January 2010, with all entries to be received no later than Aug. 14th, 2010. Visit www.calraisins.org for more information.