Media release: the LA Judge Award: moulding tomorrow’s baking innovators

12 May, 2023

Young Tasmanian baker Bjarke Svendsgaard has claimed the 2023 LA Judge Award for Baking Apprentice of the Year.

The LA Judge Award has been running for well over 50 years to advance the skills of young bakers and identify future baking industry trailblazers.

Bjarke, from Olivers Latrobe Cafe Bakery in Latrobe, was officially announced the winner at a gala event in Sydney on Thursday, 11 May 2023, presented by AEGIC and Woolworths.

Bjarke triumphed after a hard-fought contest at the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) Sydney Pilot Bakery between 9-11 May. Not far behind was Western Australia’s Jackson Kiely (Coles Haynes), who won second prize.

LA Judge Award Director Dr Ken Quail said AEGIC was proud to foster innovation among young bakers and encourage them to push the baking industry forward.

“This event is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for young bakers to develop their talents and make important connections with industry leaders. Winners and competitors often go on to achieve great things in the industry,” he said.

“Being selected for this competition is a great accomplishment. All the talented candidates pushed themselves, gave their best and performed extremely well in what is a fun, but pretty tough contest. They all did themselves, their trainers and their bakeries proud.

“A big congratulations to Bjarke, who performed consistently well across the competition. Bjarke’s skills in baking, theory, and presentation were all exceptional.”

Thanks to baking and ingredients company Puratos, Bjarke will enjoy an all-expenses-paid journey to Belgium. Over a week, Bjarke will train with Puratos in bread and patisserie baking, and explore the Belcolade Chocolate Centre, the Centre for Bread Flavour, the Sourdough Library and Maison Du Levain.

Runner-up Jackson Kiely will receive $1500 cash, plus two days training with Puratos in Sydney, including accommodation.

The other contenders, Daniel Blackburn (Queensland) and Damien Witting (Victoria), will also benefit from Puratos’ training.

Dr Quail said the LA Judge Award relies on the backing of industry sponsors. “Once again, the Australian baking and allied industries came together to make the LA Judge Award possible,” he said.

The LA Judge Award is a not-for-profit event organised and hosted by AEGIC as a way of supporting the Australian baking industry and the young bakers who are its future.

Established in 1967, the LA Judge Award is open to young apprentice bakers eager to carve a path in the Australian baking industry.

The competition spans three days and covers all aspects of baking, including practical baking skills, technical knowledge, and presentation abilities.

2023 LA Judge Award candidates

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

– ENDS –

Media contact
Keir Tunbridge
0409 991 817

AEGIC is an initiative of the Western Australian State Government and Grains Australia

Please contact Keir Tunbridge for high resolution photos. Photos by Kevin Chamberlain Photography

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.

More News