Finalists in the artisan, commercial, breakfast and student categories are gearing up for the 4th Annual America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest, Oct. 13-15 at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kan.

Professional bakers, certified baking teachers, bakery technicians and students in accredited baking programs are gearing up for the 4th Annual America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest, which takes place Oct. 13-15 at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kan.
Hosted by the California Raisin Marketing Board, Fresno, Calif., this contest is designed to discover the best California raisin breads in North America and to recognize outstanding bakers and formulas that are relevant to today’s real-world baking industry.

The contest is broken down into four categories-artisan, commercial, breakfast and student-and the Top 9 professional finalists from each sector will compete in the final bake-off and awards ceremony.

Top 9 finalists include:

Monica Hoffberg, Bakery Nouveau, for Raisin Rouleaux
Zack Petrusa, Bennison’s Bakery, for Pain Terre Haute
Jory Downer, Bennison’s Bakery, for Sweet City Loaf
Guy Downer II, Bennison’s Bakery, for Yukon Gold Raisin Loaf
Daniel DiMuzio, La Brea Bakery, Inc., for Jumbo Raisin Fougasse with Toasted Walnuts
Ali Elmusa, Custom Foods, Inc., for Peanut Butter & Raisin Bread
Anthony Sapia, Gemelli Bakers, for Pane Molino “Roman Millers Bread”
Michael Vande Walle, Uncle Mike’s Bake Shoppe, for Wild Rice Bread
Gary Gottenbusch, Servatii Pastry Shop, for California Raisin Walnut Pretzel

Anna Boisture, Le Pain Quotidien, for Knotted Spice Raisin Bread
Ron Guerrero, Caravan Ingredients, for Gluten-free Raisin Bread
Eric Spelger, Caravan Ingredients, for Raisin and Raspberry Twirl Bread
Angela Dodd, Cargill, for Cinnamon Raisin Apple Streusel Bread
Rachel Crampsey, Tribeca Oven, for Currant Seeduction
Nancy Sepe, Nancy’s Fancies, for Nonni’s Golden Raisin Sweet Bread
Jerry Scavo, J.S.C. Services, Inc., for Gluten-free Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Brian Carson, Alpha Baking Co., for Vanilla Orange Raisin Wheel
JoAnn Cline, La Brea Bakery, Inc., for 100% Whole Wheat Raisin-Pumpkin Loaf

Breakfast Item
Joanne Willcox, Apple Crumbles, for Marathon Mini Loaf
Oprah Davidson, JW Marriott Grand Lakes, for Curry Raisin Bagels
Jennifer McClintick, LeCordon Bleu, for Blissful Morning Bun
Jennifer Atwood, Atwood’s Bakery, for Orange Rum Raisin Danish
Stephanie Kirwan, Rhode Island School of Design, for California Golden Raisin Scones
Bill Hunter, Crestone Group Baking Cos., for Sunrise Bagels
Randall D’Agostino, La Bonbonniere Bake Shoppe, for Raisin Gateau Coffeecake
Mary Vande Walle, Uncle Mike’s Bake Shoppe, for Whole Grain Buttery Breakfast Rolls
Philippe Sanchez, Marriott International, for Double “California Raisin” Whole Wheat Croissant
Paul Vida, Ivy Tech Community College, for Brioche Raisin Bun for Six

Each applicant entered up to three formulas, which had to adhere to a 25% California Raisin content. Preliminary judging was based on color photos, proper formula calculations/metrics, name and description of the product, finished weight, concept inspiration and other details.

Of the 36 finalists, prizes will be awarded to three winners from each professional category. Those nine winners, along with three winners from the student category, will partake in an all-expenses-paid trip to California, including tours of the San Joaquin Valley, Yosemite Valley and the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley.

To learn more about the contest, go to