California Raisin Marketing Board Announces Winners of "America's Best Raisin Bread Contest"

Press Contact:

Larry Blagg
California Raisin Marketing Board
(559) 248-0287


Competition Heats Up as Artisan and Commercial Bakers Vie for Top Honors in Second Annual Baking Competition

Fresno, Calif., October 16, 2009 — The California Raisin Marketing Board is pleased to announce the winners of its second annual “America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest” hosted at the American Institute of Baking (AIB) in Manhattan, Kan., on October 9-10. The competition included a total of 30 finalists, made up of both professional and student bakers from across the country in the artisan and commercial categories.

In the artisan category, the grand prize formulation was created by Larry Lobe, Dawn Food Products, Phoenix, for his Sicilian Raisin Bread. Taking top honors in the commercial category was Ronald Guerrero, Caravan Ingredients, Lenexa, Kan., for his Natural Swirl Raisin Bread with 50% More Raisins. Of the student competitors, Courtney Lipkins of Providence, R.I. and student at Johnson & Wales University, took home the artisan grand prize for her Honey Nut Raisin Bread and Liana Ycikson, of Miami, Fla., also a student at Johnson & Wales University, took home the commercial grand prize for her Cardamom Pecan Raisin Bread.

“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, California Raisin Marketing Board. “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 prize winners in the artisan category, include:

  • Judges prize: Co-winners Mitch Stamm, Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I., for his California Gold Rush Bread and Charles Niedermyer, Pennsylvania College of Technology, State College, Pa., for his Dueling Raisins Bread
  • Ideas prize: Co-winners Luminita Cirstea, Kendall College, Phoenix, for her Golden Gate Bread and Philippe Sanchez, Marriott International, Orlando, Fla., for his Raisin Walnut Blue Cheese Sour Dough Pave

Additional prize winners in the commercial category, include:

  • Judges prize: Co-winners Coila Farrell,  Derby Dining Center, Housing & Dining Services at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., 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: Co-winners Jerome Davis, Cargill Integrated Bakery Resources, Lake Oswego, Ore. , for his Oregon Trail Cinnamon Vanilla Raisin Bread and Feng Xie, Caravan Ingredients, Lenexa, Kan., for her Bubble Raisin Bread

Distinguished Judges Select Top Bakers, Recipes

Each baker was required to prepare and present their raisin bread to a panel of judges. Presentations included the origin of the product idea, why various ingredients were chosen, why a product was given a particular name, and for what price the product either currently sells or is expected to sell.

The artisan judges included Ciril Hitz, Department Chairman for Baking & Pastry at Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I., Klaus Tenbergen, Certified Master Baker and Professor of Culinology, California State University, Fresno and Dominique Homo, President of Ecole du Pain, Montreal, Canada.

Commercial judges included Theresa Cogswell, President of BakerCogs, Inc., Olathe, Kan., David Guilfoyle, President of Half Baked Consultants, Inc., Abilene, Kan. and Dr. Debi Rogers, Director of Cereal Chemistry, American Institute of Baking, Manhattan, Kan.

During the competition, Cogswell, Chief Judge of the second annual America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest, summed up the results of the contest by saying, “The overall quality and quantity of entrants exceeded last year’s competition. Last year we saw many entries that were versions of a typical raisin swirl bread with cinnamon. This year we had California Raisin breads with cardamom, fennel seeds, ginger, rosemary, habanero peppers, bleu cheese, ricotta cheese, and even a new purple whole grain flour. This year’s competition demonstrated incredible variety and taste!”

Additionally, Cogswell noted that the judges were more critical and educational in this year’s judging process. Suggestions for improvement were freely made by the expert panel to create a positive learning experience for participants.

The third annual America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest will kick off in January of 2010, with all entries received no later than August 14th, 2010. All inquiries for the next year’s contest are to be directed to Theresa Cogswell at

About the California Raisin Marketing Board
A State Marketing Order in 1998 created the California Raisin Marketing Board and it is 100 percent grower funded. Its mission is to support and promote the increased use of California-grown raisins and sponsor crop production, nutrition and market research. For more information about the California Raisin Marketing Board and to browse delicious recipes, visit