Normally held at AIB International in Manhattan, the America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest (ABRBC), run by the California Raisin Marketing Board, hit the big stage at IBIE 2013 featuring five proofer retarders, two rack ovens, a deck oven, mixers and other equipment and ingredients donated by several well-established baking industry vendors.

“What amazes me is the generosity of our sponsors,” said Larry Blagg, senior vice-president of marketing for the CRMB. “They realized what’s really going on here is that we’re honoring professionals and students.”

During the three-day contest, 36 finalists are competing in the breakfast, artisan and commercial bread categories. The breakfast and artisan competitions ran on Oct. 6 and Oct. 7, respectively. The commercial event occurred on Oct. 8, and a group of international winners showed off their skills on Oct. 9.

Although this contest is in its sixth year, international best raisin bread competitive events have been going on for decades with Blagg dreaming up the idea 22 years ago in Japan to showcase the talent in that nation’s baking industry.

“This is not an in-your-face, hard-knocking competition,” Blagg said. “This is a competition where people share information to grow personally and professionally. It’s all about working side-by-side and teaching people to share.”


Top Student: Samantha Ring, Kendall College (Chicago) with her "Sweet Potato Raisin Roll"

Grand Prize Professional - Gold: Robert Nieto, Jackson Family Wines, (Fulton, CA) with his "Raisin Chardonnay Brioche"

Judges Prize Professional - Silver: Kaitlyn Guest, Gold Coast Ingredients (Commerce, CA) with her "Golden Raisin Getway"

Idea Prize Professional - Bronze: Nancy Cain, Against the Grain Gourmet (Brattleboro, VT) with her "Raisin the Bar" (a gluten-free product)


Top Student: Bradley Price, Kansas State University, (Manhattan, KS) with his "Raisin & Harvest Pear Focaccia"

Grand Prize Professional - Gold: Nicky Giusto, Central Milling (Petaluma, CA) with his Raisin de Soleil (Grape of the sun)

Judges Prize Professional - Silver: Kristin Troester, St. Peter's Bakery (Elverson, PA) with her Sultana Sunflower Bread

Idea Prize Professional - Bronze: Robbert Sarubbi, Marriott Int'l/Ritz Carlton, (Key Biscayne, FL) with his Hard Crusted Raisin Pecan with with sweet Potato and Cinnamon


Top Student:  Kathy Zibilich, El Central Culinary School (Dallas, TX) with her "Raisin Paska Bread"

Grand Prize Professional - Gold: Sandy Kim, Chabaso Bakery (New Haven, CT) with her "Spide Trader's Raisin Stick" 

Judges Prize Professional - Silver: Daniel Swift, University of Nevada (Las Vegas, NV) with his "Choclate Raisin Bread"

Idea Prize Professional - Bronze: Alphonse Beccard, 5 Generation Bakers (McDonald, PA) with his "Rum Raisin Christmas Swirl".

See for more information and contest results.