The California Raisin Marketing Board (CRMB) recently crowned the winners of the 5th annual America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest, the only professional baking competition in the nation.

Thirty-six finalists gathered October 12-13 at the American Institute of Baking (AIB) in Manhattan, Kan., to bake a variety of unique breads that starred the naturally sweet and classic baking ingredient: California raisins. Of the 36 finalists, 13 winners were chosen for their innovative and mouth-watering entries, competing in Artisan, Commercial and Breakfast categories. The California Prize was also awarded to recognize an honorable effort.

The winners include:


  • Grand Prize – Courtney Reed of Quincy, Mass., Raisin² Pizza Crust
  • Judges’ Prize – Philippe Sanchez of Orlando, Fla., Fleur de Raisin
  • Idea Prize – Siddharth Mangalore of Chicago, Ill., Curried Whole Wheat Raisin Boule
  • Student Prize – Jack Lonetto of Biscayne Park, Fla., Raisin Stuffed Breakfast Challah


  • Grand Prize – Pamela Adams of Amherst, Mass., Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread
  • Judges’ Prize – Suzanne Tatis of Henderson, Nev., Lucky Golden
  • Idea Prize – Molly Burke of Plymouth, Minn., Spicy Raisin Gingerbread
  • Student Prize – Maria Quinn of Frankfort, Ill., Not Your Grandma's  Banana Bread


  • Grand Prize – Olivier Saintemarie of Orlando, Fla., Raisins Florentine Danishes
  • Judges’ Prize – Joe Falcinelli of Park Ridge, Ill., Raisin Kovigor-Amann
  • Idea Prize –Rachel Crampsey of Montclair, N.J., Carrot Raisin Nut Muffin
  • Student Prize – Roman Anglin of Orlando, Fla., Sunny Tops

California Prize: Maurice Kalinsky of Davis, Calif., Birdseed

“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,” said 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 winning industry honors and national recognition, the winners will receive a tour of California, including the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena and the San Joaquin Valley, home of more than 3,000 raisin growers. 

More than 100 professional and student bakers submitted original formulas to the competition. Finalists were determined by a review of submitted written applications and photographs. 

During the competition, each contestant made their products in the AIB kitchens, while judges observed technique, formulations, efficiency and professionalism. Finalists then presented their creations to the panel of judges, who inquired about their formulas, production techniques, as well as the retail or commercial viability of their products.

The judging panel was a respected group of experienced professionals in the baking industry, including:

Theresa Cogswell, Chief Judge and President of BakerCogs, Inc., Olathe, Kan.

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

Dominique Homo, Bakery Consultant, Quebec, Canada

Dan Malovaney, Executive Editor of Baking & Snack, Schaumburg, Ill.

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, Kan.

Applications for 2013’s 6th annual America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest will be available online starting Nov. 1. Bakers interested in competing can visit or contact Theresa Cogswell at for more information.

About the California Raisin Marketing Board

A State Marketing Order in 1998 created the California Raisin Marketing Board, which 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