Queensland wins 50th LA Judge Award for baking apprentice of the year

Friday 19 May, 2017

Winner: Conor McNaught

Queensland’s Conor McNaught has been named 2017 baking apprentice of the year in the prestigious LA Judge Award, which this year celebrated an incredible 50 years of supporting young bakers.

The award was presented at a special retrospective gala dinner and award ceremony last night in Sydney, presented by AEGIC and Woolworths.

Conor, who works at Creative Crusts in Belmont, Queensland under highly-regarded artisan baker Brett Noy, impressed judges with his high level of baking expertise, outstanding technical knowledge and polished presentation skills.

“Conor is not only an extremely competent baker, but throughout the competition he has demonstrated excellent bread knowledge and maturity,” AEGIC Bakery Leader Daniel Li said.

“There is no doubt that he will become a valuable asset to the Australian baking industry.”

In a first for the LA Judge Award, as part of the winner’s prize, Conor will receive a special five-day all-expenses-paid trip to Belgium to visit the headquarters of eminent baking and ingredients company Puratos. Conor will have the opportunity to take part in bakery demonstrations, tour Puratos’ famed sourdough library and visit its various museums and facilities.

In another first for the LA Judge Award, a special runner-up prize was awarded to Victorian candidate Alex Slinger of Burnham Bakery. Courtesy of Puratos, Alex will attend a two-day Customer Innovation Seminar in the Puratos Asia Development Centre, Hong Kong.

Runner-up Alex Slinger and winner Conor McNaught

Mr Li said Alex and the other candidates ­­– Jason Holder of WA and Tiffany Davies of ACT – performed admirably in what was a close competition.

“LA Judge candidates are all winners just by being selected to compete. I look forward to seeing what these talented young bakers can achieve in the industry in  coming years.”

The LA Judge Award has been running since 1967 and is open to young apprentice bakers under 23 who are keen to make their mark on the baking industry. The competition takes place over three days and includes all aspects of baking, including practical baking skills, technical knowledge and presentation abilities.

AEGIC Sydney General Manager Research & Technical Services Dr Ken Quail said the 50th anniversary gala dinner and award ceremony was the biggest and most successful event in the award’s history.

“The LA Judge Award is truly the “night of nights” for the Australian baking and allied industries, and AEGIC is proud to continue this long tradition of bringing the industry together to celebrate young bakers”, he said.

“We were delighted that well over 200 people joined us to celebrate this special 50th anniversary milestone – by far the biggest attendance in the award’s history.”

Dr Quail said the LA Judge Award attributed the success of the event to wonderful support of industry sponsors. A record 11 sponsors supported the 50th LA Judge Award.

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