The top 12 winners of the 4th annual America's Best Raisin Bread Contest were announced this week. The 37 finalists competed in the artisan, commercial, breakfast and student categories Oct. 14-15 at the American Institute of Baking (AIB) in Manhattan, Kan.
More than 100 professional and student bakers submitted between one and three original formulas to the competition, and finalists were determined by initially blind testing by the judges of both product formulas and photographs.
"Our goal is to discover and reward the most creative and talented bakers in the country by challenging them to create raisin bread products in four,” Larry Blagg, senior vice president of marketing for the California Raisin Marketing Board, which sponsors the contest, said in a press release. "The competition has grown each year, and attracts the top bakers in America. This year's entries were impressive and innovative, and the judges had their work cut out for them."
The winners are:
Grand prize–Gary Gottenbusch, Servatii Pastry Shop, Cincinnati, Ohio, for California raisin walnut pretzel (pictured at right, courtesy of PR Newswire)
Judge's prize–Jory Downer, Bennison’s Bakery, Evanston, Ill., for sweet city loaf
Idea prize–Monica Hoffberg, Bakery Nouveau, Seattle, Wash., for raisin rouleaux
Grand prize–Rachel Crampsey, Tribeca Oven, Carlstadt, N.J., currant seeduction bread
Judge's prize–Angela Dodd, Cargill, Lake Oswego, Ore., for cinnamon raisin apple streusel bread
Idea prize–Nancy Sepe, Nancy's Fancies, Providence, R.I. for Nonni's golden raisin sweet bread
Grand prize–Phillippe Sanchez, Marriott International, Orlando, Fla., for double California raisin whole wheat croissant
Judge's prize–Bill Hunter, Crestone Group Baking Cos., Grapevine, Texas, for sunrise bagels
Idea prize–Joanne Wilcox, Apple Crumbles, Utica, N.Y. for marathon mini loaf
Artisan–Morgan Choi, The French Pastry School, Chicago, Ill., for laminated rosemary raisin epi
Commercial–Maddy Beck, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., for barbeque raisin bread
Breakfast–Nicole Barry, Chicago, The French Pastry School, for muscat grape-vanilla cream raisin Danish
The grand prize, judge's prize and idea prize winners received plaques and will receive an all-expenses paid trip to California to visit the growing areas of California raisins, as well as a visit to the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, Calif., to sample California cuisine and wines.
The 5th annual America's Best Raisin Bread Contest will begin in January 2012.