LA Judge Award 2024 

Australasia’s most prestigious annual baking prize in 2024 promises to be better than ever. Join us as we celebrate the remarkable talent of our young baking apprentices and witness the crowning of the coveted LA Judge Award recipient.

Since 1967, this esteemed prize has honoured the best young baking apprentice in Australia and New Zealand, serving as a beacon for future industry leaders.

Competitors aged 25 and under showcase their baking prowess and industry knowledge over three intense days of competition, highlighting the importance of practical skills, technical expertise and effective communication.

Competition: 7 – 9 May 2024

DATES: 7 – 9 May 2024
VENUE: AEGIC, North Ryde, Sydney NSW, 2113

Gala dinner: Thursday 9 May 2024

TIME: 6.30pm
Three course meal and drinks provided.
VENUE: Sydney Masonic Centre, | 66 Goulburn Street Sydney NSW 2000

sold out! Purchase Gala Dinner & Award Ceremony tickets 

Meet the competitors

We are proud to present our 2024 LA Judge Award competitors below.

Imogen is a 20-year-old croissant connoisseur from Brisbane with a passion for crafting the perfect flaky pastry treat. She loves pushing the boundaries of flavour and creativity. She’s gearing up to show off her technical expertise in this year’s competition. With her sights set on learning from her fellow competitors and impressing our judges, she’s ready to take her baking game to new heights.
After his older brother Tristan’s victory in the 2019 LA Judge Award, 24 year-old Connor was inspired to follow in his footsteps in this year’s competition. Baking has been a lifelong passion for Connor, deeply rooted in his upbringing in his family’s bakery business. He took inspiration from his dad and has been captivated by the artistry and craftsmanship of baking.
17-year-old Dylan is no stranger to baking competitions, having entered The Baking Industry Trade Show’s Excellence in Baking competition last year. He discovered baking after he took shifts in the bakery at Coles. He enjoyed the creative aspects, such as icing sweets and donuts and crossing hot cross buns. This glimpse into the bakery world influenced him to start his apprenticeship.
24-year old Dylan has a love of sourdoughs, from the crafting and scoring of the pre-baked loaf to savouring the taste of a freshly-baked dark French crust. He would love to make a sweet pastry scroll or croissant with chocolate and hazelnut flavours. The LA Judge Award is Dylan’s first bakery competition, and he goes into it confident that his shaping techniques for Vienna and French sticks will impress the judges.
19-year-old Ryan is excited to be taking part in his first baking competition. Baking has always been his passion and, nurtured by his dad’s encouragement and late-night practice sessions, he decided to go into it after finishing high school. Another croissant connoisseur, Ryan’s signature bake is his delicious almond croissants. He loves to experiment with gluten-free products and believes you should not be able to tell the difference.


AEGIC thanks and acknowledges our generous baking and allied industry supporters without whom the LA Judge Award would not be possible.

The competition and gala dinner / award ceremony are run on a not-for-profit basis by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC), who also contribute to the event as a Major Sponsor.

The professional and personal development gained through participation in this competition is life-changing and ensures the future of the baking industry is in good hands.

This opportunity would not be possible without the generous support of industry sponsors, and we thank them for their ongoing support.

Download the Sponsorship Prospectus

About our sponsors

The LA Judge Award is hosted by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre and is run on a not-for-profit basis and would not be possible without the support of our generous sponsors.

We are pleased to announce the sponsors for the LA Judge Award 2024, several of whom are returning and longtime supporters of this prestigious baking competition.


Major and Prize sponsor: Puratos Australia

Puratos is an international group, which offers a full range of innovative food ingredients and services for the bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors. It serves artisans, retailers, industrial and food service companies in over 100 countries around the world.

Its headquarters are located in Belgium, where the company was founded in 1919. Puratos believes that food has extraordinary power in people’s lives. The company does not take such responsibility lightly. This is why Puratos aims to help customers be successful with their business, by turning technologies and experiences gathered from food cultures around the world into new opportunities.

Together, Puratos and its customers can move the planet forward by creating innovative food solutions for the health and well-being of people everywhere.

For further information, visit

2024 LA Judge prizes, courtesy of Puratos:


  • Return flights from Australian capital city to Brussels, Belgium
  • One-week hands on training at Puratos HQ with some of the best International Technical Experts in the field.
  • Visit to Puratos HQ Innovation Centre, The Centre for Bread Flavour, The Sourdough Institute (formally the Center for Bread Flavour) and Maison Du Levain in St Vith, Belgium.
  • Accommodation, food and transport, plus some extra surprises along the way.


  • $1,500 cash reward
  • Two-day training session in the Puratos Sydney Innovation Center
  • Return flights to Sydney
  • Three nights accommodation in Sydney
  • Food and transport.

Other candidates (excluding Winner and Runner-up)

  • Return flights to Sydney
  • Three nights accommodation in Sydney
  • Accommodation, food and transport.

Gala dinner sponsor: Woolworths

“That’s why I pick Woolies”

With more choices than ever before, more Australians still pick Woolies for their food shopping, 14 million every week.

From fresh produce to the choicest home grown meat, we always pick the best for you. And it’s not just about price, it’s about the best quality for all budgets. When it comes to the community, we’ll pick the greater good every time.

Woolworths is part of the community across Australia’s cities, regions and remote areas. We employ over 205,000 people who serve over 29 million customers a week.

With fresh bakeries in more than 600 stores across our network, we are proud to support the growing bread baking industry in Australia.

Sustainable sourcing means better opportunities for producers to implement sustainable practices, improved working conditions and helps to protect our planet.

With our presence across cities, regions and remote areas, Woolworths is a part of the fabric of society. We are committed to making a positive impact and partner with organisations that are equally committed to making change happen.

Providing hunger relief for Australians in need is a key focus, and our surplus food is redirected to help feed people who may otherwise go without.

In addition we support communities facing natural disasters with emergency relief and post-disaster recovery.

Our support of local communities, our partners and programs is part of our commitment to bring a little good to everyone every day.

For further information visit

Major sponsors

About Us

We are the leaders in flour, ingredients and delicious bakery products. We bring fun, unique and healthier options to millions of people across Australasia every day and have done so for more than 100 years.

Our Products

Get everything you need from us. From ingredients to premixes, frozen and finished bakery products. We are your one-stop shop for commercial baking supplies.

Our Brands

From food ingredients to finished bakery products, our brands offer you premium quality at a competitive price.


Australian Bakels is a member of the privately-owned International Bakels Group with over 100 years of industry experience.

Originating in Switzerland, and the Australian arm of the group established in 1952, Bakels services the global bakery industry and food market with premium ingredients.

The current product range offers a wide variety of bakery ingredients including bread and cake mixes, wet fillings, ready-to-bake cookie dough, bakery fats and icings for both industrial and general trade customers. With first class Australia-wide facilities and a highly-skilled and qualified team, Bakels offer high quality service from conception through to commercialisation and beyond.


Lesaffre is a key global player in fermentation for over 170 years. From its early days in alcohol distillation, Lesaffre in northern France branched into yeast and bread making in 1872.

Driven by innovation and backed by cutting edge research, we continue to find creative and breakthrough solutions for the baking, food taste and pleasure, healthcare and biotechnology industries. On the strength of this expertise in the bread making domain, baking with Lesaffre’s mission is to help bakers around the world.

More than a reliable supplier, we are a trusted partner who can make the bakery more efficient, more creative and more inspiring. From industrial companies to artisan bakers, we offer solutions for the needs of today and the trends of tomorrow. We’ve been supporting industrial, craft and food service bakers across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific for more than 25 years.

Lesaffre Australia Pacific is supported by our APAC Bakery Headquarters in Singapore, corporate office and Baking Center in NSW, offices in QLD, VIC and WA and New Zealand and a fully HACCP and ISO accredited state of the art yeast manufacturing facility in Dandenong, VIC.

We locally produce a range of fermentation products and bakery ingredients. Lesaffre Australia Pacific is a proud supporter & sponsor of LA Judge and the Australian Baking Industry.

100% Australian owned Manildra Group has been a major flour miller producing superior bakery products since 1952. Manildra’s state-of-the-art mills, in the heart of the NSW wheatbelt produce a full range of wheat flours, bakery mixes and associated products from premium Australian, GMO-free grain.

Our track record for quality, reliability, service and innovation has made Manildra a trusted and preferred choice nationally, from family kitchens to major Australian brands. Manildra customers can have absolute confidence in our products’ performance and reliability.

At MAURI, we love baking and are excited about the role baking plays in bringing people together. As a leading supplier of bakery ingredient solutions across Australia and New Zealand, MAURI offers a comprehensive portfolio of high quality flours, yeast, premixes and improvers. We source our wheat from local growers and are committed to supporting sustainable farming practices across the country. MAURI is dedicated to the development of innovative bakery solutions which exceed our customers’ expectations on quality and performance.
The National Baking Industry Association (NBIA) supports independent, franchise, and manufacture bakeries to pursue their vision of success. We encourage an Australia-wide network of united and supportive bakers and industry suppliers, provide critical business insights and professional business support, and facilitate a skilled workforce. We invite you to join us and invest in the future of the Australian baking industry and your baking business – for a thriving baking industry.
In 1980, fourth generation baker Roger Gillespie and his wife Lesley, opened the first Bakers Delight in Hawthorn, Victoria. Since then, we’ve been delighting our customers every day, with delicious freshly baked bread and snacks.

Our bread is baked by real bakers, using real ingredients, traditional baking methods and only with Australian made flour.
Today, Bakers Delight is still proudly family-owned and operated, under the guidance of Joint CEOs Elise Gillespie and David Christie. With over 650 locations across Australia and North America (and still growing!), we are proud to have a strong network of franchisees and more than 8,000 bakers and sales staff employed. This means we not only delight our customers every day, but can help hundreds of aspiring business owners, to fulfil their dreams and have a slice of Australia’s most successful bakery franchise.

Supporting the community is at the heart of everything we do, from donating end-of-day product to charities and farmers, to supporting local fundraisers and events for schools and community groups.

We are very proud of our partnership with Breast Cancer Network Australia, having raised over $20 million dollars since our partnership began over two decades ago. Our support means they can provide vital resources and support, to the thousands of men and women diagnosed with breast cancer every year.

Our people and our products all help deliver on our vision to be the most loved bakery in every community.

Supporting and Meal break sponsor

Competition and meal break sponsor

At ADM we unlock the power of nature to provide access to nutrition worldwide.

Learn more at

Azelis logo

Competition and meal break sponsor

Your partner in Food & Health innovation

Healthier, safer and tastier food made with responsible, honest ingredients shape consumer demands today. We are leaders in supplying food manufacturers around the world with high quality ingredients, effective auxiliary materials, and a wide range of additives to help create the taste, texture, performance and appearance you need for your recipes.

At Azelis, we understand this is a diverse and dynamic industry. In fact, we thrive on it. And our customers trust us to do more than respond to new market trends – or to anticipate emerging ones. Instead, we strive to influence and inspire customer demand through a passion for innovation and a natural desire to think differently.

With Azelis’ teams of specialists, work together to identify new markets and emerging consumer trends to create unique, pioneering formulations. Azelis’ portfolio of solutions can also help you formulate sustainable, organic and natural products.”

LA Judge Award – Half a Century of History

“We must tell the story of bread” – Les Judge  (1904-1964)

More information: special 50th anniversary LA Judge Award commemorative booklet

The LA Judge Award for baking apprentice of the year is named after Les Judge, a much-admired baker who entered the industry at 14 and dedicated most of his life to raising the quality of Australian bread.

Les Judge held a range of roles in the Australian and New Zealand bread industries during his 60 years. He was involved in the establishment of the Bread Research Institute of Australia (now AEGIC Sydney), and is best remembered for bridging the gap between bakers, millers and growers to improve wheat and bread quality for the benefit of the whole industry.

A great communicator and diplomat, Les Judge played an important role in persuading farmers to grow better quality wheat — not by bombarding them with technical jargon and rhetoric, but by going to them and baking bread. As the Australasian Baker and Millers’ Journal noted in 1964:

“Many were the loaves of bread he baked and showed to astonished farmers on their home ground to demonstrate the contrast between bread made from Bencubbin (a high-yield, lower-quality wheat variety of the time) and that made from a strong, high-protein wheat.”

Les Judge was a Life Member and past President of the Associated Bread Manufacturers of Australia and New Zealand (ABMANZ), and in the 1950s served as its Federal Wheat Liaison Officer, during which time he did most of the work for which he is remembered. When ABMANZ decided to set up a national baking apprentice award in 1967, Les Judge was the clear choice for the award’s title.

Today, the LA Judge Award is the nation’s most prestigious baking industry award. Since 1967, the LA Judge Award has promoted excellence and celebrated the skills of young baking apprentices. There are many examples of past competitors and winners who have gone on to make their mark in the baking industry.

“Just as the Renaissance of the Middle Ages signified a great awakening in artistic, literary and social activities… so may we, by breaking away from tradition, exchanging ideas, and setting up new ideals, bring about a great awakening in the industry, and thus eventually re-establish Bread as the Staff of Life. We must tell the story of bread; its nutritional advantages — which each day are becoming more generally vouched for by authoritative nutrition scientists — its place in the economic structure of the nation; and above all, we must use to the utmost all our art and skill as tradesmen in perfecting loaves that will have a sort of agreeableness in them which invites the appetite.” – Les Judge: Bread Revival (1939)

State tally

Since its commencement in 1967, the LA Judge Award has seen 54 winners take the title. The ‘state tally’ or distribution of winners across the states is below, which shows New South Wales is currently in the lead.

State/country Number of wins
New South Wales 15
Queensland 13
Western Australia 9
Victoria 8
South Australia 4
New Zealand 4
Tasmania 2

Winners gallery

This gallery showcases LA Judge Winners up to 2008; and 2003, 2001, 1997, 1986, 1978, 1977 and 1973. Efforts to contact previous winners will continue and this gallery will be updated.

2023 – Bjarke Svendsgaard (TAS)
2017 – Connor McNaught (QLD)
2013 – John Reminis (NSW)
2009 – Jennifer Benbow (TAS)
1997 – Gregg Klaebe (SA)
1973 – Karel Van Styn (WA)
2022 – Chloe Murrary (QLD)
2016 – Ben Werner (VIC)
2012 – John Leontiadis (VIC)
2008 – Donna Pocklington (WA)
1986 – John Kruik (NSW)
2019 – Tristan Beisler (NSW)
2015 – Daniel Li (WA)
2011 – Vince Austin (WA)
2003 – Andrew Gunn (VIC)
1978 – Lindsay Weber (QLD)
2018 – Amie Stewart (QLD)
2014 – Alexander Ivanoff (NSW)
2010 – Ashley Toth (WA)
2001 – Ashley Schmidt (SA)
1977 – Jeff Kimm (VIC)

Complete list of LA Judge Winners

Year State/Country Name
1968 Victoria Mr Thomas Virgato
1969 Queensland Mr Peter Nickl
1970 New South Wales Mr Alan Honeywood
1971 New South Wales Mr Peter Mylott
1972 Queensland Mr Christopher Talbot
1973 Western Australia Mr Karel Van Styn
1974 New South Wales Mr Charles Latter
1975 Queensland Mr Danny Redman
1976 New South Wales Mr Brian Ferguson
1977 Victoria Mr Jeff Kimm
1978 Queensland Mr Lindsay Weber
1979 New South Wales Mr Simon Parkes
1980 Western Australia Mr David Pryce
1981 Victoria Mr Mark Wright
1982 Victoria Mr Graham James
1983 New South Wales Mr Robert Polok
1984 Queensland Mr Bill Brinkley
1985 Queensland Mr Stephen Dunkley
1986 New South Wales Mr John Kruik
1987 New South Wales Mr Bruce Johnson
1988 Queensland Mr Scott Cureton
1989 New South Wales Mr Michael Hancock
1990 Queensland Mr Glen Stoddart
1991 South Australia Mr Stephen Wallace
1992 New Zealand Mr Craig Coote
1993 New South Wales Mr David McCann
1994 New Zealand Mr Russell Ben
1995 New South Wales Mr Joseph Caffo
1995 New Zealand Mr Tristan Lynch
1996 New South Wales Mr Mark Hooper
1997 South Australia Mr Gregg Klaebe
1998 Queensland Mr Anthony Barbagallo
1999 New Zealand Mr Jason Graham
2000 South Australia Mr Darren Osmak
2001 South Australia Mr Ashley Schmidt
2002 Western Australia Mr Adam Green
2003 Victoria Mr Andrew Gunn
2004 Western Australia Mr Joel Benbow
2005 Western Australia Mr Jared Stephens
2006 Queensland Miss Jessica Wadd
2007 Western Australia Mr Aaron Lucas
2008 Western Australia Miss Donna Pocklington
2009 Tasmania Miss Jennifer Benbow
2010 Victoria Mr Ashley Toth
2011 Western Australia Mr Vincent Austin
2012 Victoria Mr John Leontiadis
2013 New South Wales Mr John Reminis
2014 New South Wales Mr Alexander Ivanoff
2015 Western Australia Mr Daniel Li
2016 Victoria Mr Ben Werner
2017 Queensland Mr Connor McNaught
2018 Queensland Miss Amie Stewart
2019 New South Wales Mr Tristan Beisler
2022 Queensland Miss Chloe Murray
2023 Tasmania Mr Bjarke Svendsgaard