The autumn showers that moved through the Plains states last weekend didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the 36 finalists participating in the 5th annual America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest, Oct. 12-13.

Sponsored by the California Raisin Marketing Board, Fresno, Calif., the professional baking competition was held at the American Institute of Baking (AIB) in Manhattan, Kan., where entrants crafted their raisin-laden breads in a state-of-the-art kitchen.

After hours of baking and judging, 13 winners were chosen in the following categories:


•  Grand Prize—Courtney Reed, Bay State Milling Co., Quincy, Mass., for Raisin2 Pizza Crust.

•  Judges’ Prize—Philippe Sanchez, Marriott International, Orlando, Fla., for Fleur de Raisin.

•  Idea Prize—Siddharth Mangalore, Kendall College, Chicago, for Curried Whole Wheat Raisin Boule.

•  Student Prize—Jack Lonetto, Johnson & Wales University, Biscayne Park, Fla., for Raisin Stuffed Breakfast Challah.


•  Grand Prize—Pamela Adams, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, for Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread.

•  Judges’ Prize—Suzanne Tatis, Art Institute of Las Vegas, Henderson, Nev., for Lucky Golden.

•  Idea Prize—Molly Burke, Cargill, Plymouth, Minn., for Spicy Raisin Gingerbread.

•  Student Prize—Maria Quinn, French Pastry School, Chicago, for Not Your Grandma’s Banana Bread.


•  Grand Prize—Olivier Santemarie, Notter School, Orlando, Fla., for Raisins Florentine Danishes.

•  Judges’ Prize—Joe Falcinelli, Bennison’s Bakery, Park Ridge, Ill., for Raisin Kovigor-Amann.

•  Idea Prize—Rachel Crampsey, Montclair Bread Co., Montclair, N.J., for Carrot Raisin Nut Muffin.

•  Student—Roman Andres Anglin, Ritz Carlton International, Valencia College, Orlando, Fla., for Sunny Tops.

CRMB presented its California Prize to Maurice Kalisky of Upper Crust Baking Co., Davis, Calif., for Birdseed. The award recognizes an honorable effort.

“The experience level, creativity and craftsmanship of this year’s winners are at the highest level I’ve seen since we started this competition five years ago,” says Larry Blagg, senior vice president of marketing for CRMB. “Besides recognizing some of the top bakers in the industry, participation in the finals is done in such a manner as to create a sense of camaraderie among the contestants—they exchange techniques and best practices with one another.”

In addition to industry-wide recognition, Grand Prize, Judges’ Prize and Idea Prize winners received medals, plaques and a five-day, educational vacation to California that includes visits to the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, Yosemite National Park and the San Joaquin Valley. The remaining finalists received medals and engraved plaques.

More than 100 professional and student bakers submitted original formulas to the competition. Finalists were selected based on submitted written applications and photographs and received complimentary.

This year’s panel of judges were Theresa Cogswell, chief judge and president of BakerCogs Inc., Olathe, Kan.; Ciril Hitz, department chairman for baking and pastry at Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I.; Klaus Tenbergen, certified master baker and professor of culinology, California State University, Fresno; Dominique Homo, bakery consultant, Quebec; Dan Malovany, editor of Baking & Snack, Kansas City, Mo.; and Mary Molt, Ph.D., R.D., L.D., assistant director of housing and dining services and assistant professor of hospitality management and dietetics, Kansas State University, Manhattan.

Applications for 2013’s 6th annual America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest will be available online beginning Nov. 1. Bakers interested in competing can visit