Victoria wins 2016 LA Judge Award

Friday 20 May, 2016

Ben Werner LA Judge 2016

Photos: Kevin Chamberlain Photography

Link to high resolution image

Victorian baker Ben Werner has been named the 2016 LA Judge Baking Apprentice of the Year.

The 23-year-old from Rushworth, 180km North of Melbourne, was presented with the 2016 LA Judge Award at a gala ceremony in Darling Harbour, Sydney, on Thursday May 19.

Ben overcame five other talented young bakers from around the country to take out the prestigious prize following three days of intense competition and assessment.

Ben said he was delighted to win the 2016 LA Judge Award.

“It was an awesome experience and one I will remember for the rest of my life,” he said.

“It was so great to work alongside the best bakers from around Australia.

“I am so happy to have been a part of it. To win it was a real bonus.”

Ben Werner with his employers from Tatura Hot Bread
Ben Werner with his employers from Tatura Hot Bread 

Competition organiser Daniel Li, who was the 2015 LA Judge Award Winner, said all the 2016 candidates performed admirably during the high-pressure competition.

“It is a genuine honour just to be nominated for the LA Judge Award,” Daniel said.

“All the six candidates can consider themselves winners just to have made it to the competition.”

LA Judge 2016 candidates

The competition was adjudicated by guest judges Jeff Fielke from sponsor MAURI anz, WA TAFE teacher Patrick Villepinte and baking consultant Jeff Baker. The judges were impressed with all the young bakers’ skills and passion for their trade.

Jeff Fielke said it was an honour to be involved with LA Judge.

“Meeting and observing the six young contestants was a pleasure and they were all great ambassadors for their states,” he said.

“Ben showed remarkable poise and calm under pressure. Based on his approach to the competition and great practical skills, I was not suprised  to hear his name called out.  A worthy winner and it gives me great hope for the industry’s future with such great young people willing to get in and have a go.”

As it has been for 49 years, the competition was held at the former Bread Research Institute in North Ryde (now AEGIC Sydney). The competitors were tested on all aspects of baking, including practical baking exercises, technical knowledge, food safety and communication skills.

The bakers also constructed special Olympic-themed ‘bread plaques’.

The Gala Dinner and Award Presentation was held at Dockside Sydney on Thursday May 19, and presented by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) in conjunction with Dinner Sponsor CW Pacific.

The 2016 LA Judge competition was also supported by Major Sponsors Lesaffre Australia Pacific, Manildra Group, and supporting sponsors MAURI anz, Bakels, Frutex Australia and Mackies/W&P Reedy.

Ben Werner LA Judge 2016 2

LA JUDGE AWARD – background

The LA Judge Award was established in 1967 and is named in honour of Australian baking industry legend Les Judge.

Les Judge was born in 1904 in Inverell, New South Wales. He came from a farming and baking family and was involved in a number of both city and country bakeries. A wide interest in the Industry resulted in Mr Judge taking many new initiatives on behalf of the baking industry. During the 1940’s and 1950’s he lobbied extensively on behalf of bakers for an improvement in the quality of wheat varieties grown by farmers.

Mr Judge was involved in the establishment of the Bread Research Institute (BRI) in 1947. (For some years, the former BRI labs were managed by GrainGrowers, and now are managed by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC)). Mr Judge was actively involved in promoting research and training within the baking industry. In addition to being a qualified baker, he studied bacteriology and fermentation at the University of Sydney and completed a course in dietetics in order to gain a background in the technical and nutritional features of bread. Les Judge was keenly aware of the importance of apprenticeship training and assisted at East Sydney Technical College in various capacities. His enthusiasm and hard work resulted in a dramatic increase in the quality and standard of baking in Australia.

2016 LA Judge Award competitors

VICTORIA
WINNER: Ben Werner: Tatura Hot Bread

SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Cameron Wallace: Bakers Delight Mt Gambier

NORTHERN TERRITORY
Damien McIntosh: Bakers Delight Palmerston

QUEENSLAND
David Hasler: Jaspers on Weyba

TASMANIA
Jarrod Gaye: Tempt Bakery Café

NEW SOUTH WALES
Zachary Wren: Bakers Delight Tamworth

2016 LA Judge Award judges

  • Patrick Villepinte: South Metropolitan TAFE
  • Jeff Fielke: MAURI ANZ
  • John Baker

THE LA JUDGE AWARD IS A NOT-FOR-PROFIT EVENT HELD ANNUALLY TO SUPPORT UP-AND-COMING YOUNG BAKERS. THE EVENT WOULD NOT BE POSSIBLE WITHOUT SPONSORSHIP SUPPORT FROM THE BAKING INDUSTRY.

AEGIC ACKNOWLEDGES THE GENEROUS SUPPORT OF THE SPONSORS OF THE 2016 LA JUDGE AWARD:

DINNER SPONSOR: CW Pacific

MAJOR SPONSOR: Lesaffre Asia Pacific

MAJOR SPONSOR: Manildra Group

SUPPORTING SPONSOR: Australian Bakels

SUPPORTING SPONSOR: MAURI anz

SUPPORTING SPONSOR: Frutex Australia

SUPPORTING SPONSOR: Mackies and WP Reedy

MEDIA SUPPORTER: Australasian Baker Magazine