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 prestigious prize following three days of intense competition and assessment.
“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.”
Competition organiser Daniel Li, 2015 LA Judge Award Winner, said all candidates performed admirably during the high-pressure competition.
It is a genuine honour just to be nominated for the LA Judge Award,” he said.
“All six candidates can consider themselves winners just to have made it to the competition.”
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.
“Meeting and observing the six young contestants was a pleasure and they were all great ambassadors for their states,” Jeff Fielke said, noting Ben showed remarkable poise and calm under pressure.
“Based on his approach to the competition and great practical skills, I was not surprised to hear his name called out,” he said.
“A worthy winner and it gives me great hope or 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 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.
The LA Judge Award was established in 1967 and is named in honour of Australian baking industry legend Les Judge. Born in 1904 in Inverell, New South Wales, he came from a farming and baking family, and lobbied on behalf of bakers for an improvement in the quality of wheat varieties grown by farmers throughout the 1940s and ’50s.
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 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).
AEGIC competition organiser and last year’s winner, Daniel Li, said preparations are already underway for the 2017 competition.
“Next year will be the 50th anniversary and we will be looking to put on the best competition yet,” he said
Congratulations to all the 2016 la Judge award Competitors
Ben Werner, Tatura Hot Bread
Cameron Wallace, Bakers Delight Mt Gambier
Damien McIntosh, Bakers Delight Palmerston
David Hasler, Jaspers on Weyba
Jarrod Gaye, Tempt Bakery Café
New South Wales:
Zachary Wren, Bakers Delight Tamworth.