This past weekend, managing editor Marina Mayer attended the second-annual California Raisin Bread Contest, which was held at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kan.

All 30 bakers, including six students, submitted recipes consisting of at least 50%California raisins, along with an array of other ingredients such as cardamom, fennel seeds, ginger, rosemary, habañero peppers, bleu cheese, ricotta cheese and even a purple whole grain flour.

“I was particularly excited this year that we had several new participants who came from all across the states, and from bakeries and companies big and small,” says Larry Blagg, senior vice president of marketing for the Fresno, Calif.-based California Raisin Marketing Board. “Everyone had a story to tell about their careers and why they love their jobs.”

The winners for the artisan category are as follows:

Student finalist – Courtney Lipkins from Johnson & Wales University-Providence, R.I.

Idea prize – Luminita Cirstea from Kendall College and Philippe Sanchez from Marriott International

Judges prize – Charles Niedermyer from Pennsylvania College of Technology and Mitch Stamm from Johnson & Wales University

Grand prize – Larry Lobe from Dawn Food Products

The winners for the commercial category are as follows:

Student finalist – Liana Ycikson from Johnson & Wales University-North Miami, Fla.

Idea prize – Jerome Davis from Cargill Integrated Bakery Resources and Feng Xie from Caravan Ingredients

Judges prize – Coila Farrell from the Derby Dining Center, Housing & Dining Services at Kansas State University and Eric Spelger from Caravan Ingredients

Grand prize – Ronald Guerrero from Caravan Ingredients

Congratulations to all of the winners and contestants who put forth the time and effort to participate in this event. Look for further reports on the contest from Marina Mayer both online at and inSnack Food & Wholesale Bakery magazine.