Media release – LA Judge Award for Baking Apprentice of the Year returns

13 April, 2023

The LA Judge Award, Australasia’s most prestigious baking competition, returns May 9-11, 2023.

Since 1967, the LA Judge Award has challenged young apprentice bakers in a friendly yet intense three-day competition.

On May 11, 2023, the coveted LA Judge title will be presented to the top performer at a gala ceremony in Sydney, attended by baking industry professionals from across Australia. The LA Judge Award is organised and hosted by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC). The event is presented in conjunction with the Australian Society of Baking Annual Conference.

Dr Ken Quail, AEGIC Interim CEO, said the LA Judge Award was a challenging but friendly competition that was often a life-changing experience for candidates.

“For 54 years, the LA Judge Award has championed excellence in young bakers, acknowledged their baking ability and industry knowledge, and identified future industry leaders,” he said.

“LA Judge candidates take part in an intense but fun three-day contest. The young bakers are encouraged to care for and support each other and often form friendships.

“Simply by participating in the competition, each candidate is already a winner. Numerous past winners and competitors of the LA Judge Award have subsequently made significant contributions to the baking industry.”

Dr Quail said the competition relied on the support of industry sponsors to meet the significant costs of running such an event.

Sponsors: Major sponsor and prize sponsor Puratos; Gala Dinner sponsor Woolworths; major sponsors Allied Pinnacle, Australian Bakels, Lesaffre Asia Pacific, National Baking Industry Association, Vanrooy; supporting sponsor: MAURI; competition break sponsor ADM.

The gala dinner and award ceremony will take place at Dockside, Darling Harbour on 11 May, sponsored by Woolworths. Tickets available now.

The winner will receive a special trip to Belgium to visit the headquarters of Puratos, including 1 week of training and visits to various Puratos facilities including its famous Sourdough Library. The runner up and candidates will also receive special prizes from Puratos.


2023 LA Judge Award candidates (L-R):

  • Daniel Blackburn, Creative Crusts (Belmont, Queensland)
  • Bjarke Svendsgaard, Olivers Latrobe Café Bakery (Latrobe, Tasmania)
  • Damien Witting, Salus Bakery (Wangaratta, Victoria)
  • Jackson Kiely, Coles (Haynes, Western Australia)

– ENDS –

Media contact
Keir Tunbridge
0409 991 817

AEGIC is an investment of Australian grain growers and the Australian Government through the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), and the Western Australian Government through the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

About the LA Judge Award for Baking Apprentice of the Year

Each year, one candidate from each Australian State and Territory, as well as New Zealand, may be nominated to compete through their state baking association. Candidates must be 25 years of age or younger (as of 1 January in the year of competition) and must not have completed their formal studies more than 24 months before the year of competition.

The competition takes place at AEGIC’s North Ryde Pilot Bakery, part of the former Bread Research Institute. The competitors are put through their paces in all aspects of baking, including practical baking exercises, technical knowledge, and communication skills. The candidates often find that the event is a life-changing experience and make important industry connections with industry leaders.

Background Information: Les Judge – an industry legend

Les Judge, an Australian baking industry icon, is the namesake of the prestigious LA Judge Award, established in 1967. Born in Inverell, New South Wales in 1904, Judge was a competitive baker and an effective communicator, renowned for his engagement with farmers and bakers to enhance the industry. Hailing from a family of farmers and bakers, he was involved with several bakeries both in urban and rural areas. His passion for the industry led him to take various initiatives on its behalf.

LA Judge is best remembered for persuading wheat growers to listen to the pleas of bakers and grow better quality baking wheat. He changed farmers’ attitudes not by rhetoric, but by going to them and baking bread. Judge’s legacy still lives on, and he is remembered as a pioneer of the baking industry.

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