Finalists for this year’s America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest will receive a complimentary trip to the baking industry’s premier event in Las Vegas this fall. Thirty-six finalists will use their formulas to bake breads and breakfast foods before a panel of distinguished judges from both the artisan and commercial baking industries during the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE), set for Oct. 6-9 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

California Raisin Marketing Board (CRMB) is currently accepting entries from professional and student bakers in three categories: best wholesale/commercial raisin bread, best artisan raisin bread and best breakfast item.

From the vine to the oven, California raisins will be the star of this baking competition that recognizes professional and up-and-coming bakers across the nation.

“We started America's Best Raisin Bread Contest to recognize the top bakers in the industry,” said Larry Blagg, CRMB senior vice-president of marketing. “As the only professional baking contest in the US, it’s a great way to showcase the versatility of raisins as an ingredient, as well as the creativity of both professional and student bakers across the country.”

America's Best Raisin Bread Contest is open to all industry professionals and student bakers. Eligible contestants include bakers and R&D professionals at commercial baking companies; craft bakers and retail shop owners and managers; certified baking teachers; students in accredited baking programs; and bakery technicians at bakery supply wholesalers, flour milling companies and other allied bakery ingredient suppliers. Participants must be at least 18 years old.

Preliminary contest judging will take place in August to select the 36 finalists receiving a complimentary trip to Baking Expo.

At Las Vegas, judges will determine a total of 12 winners — nine in the professional division and three in student division. Selection of winners will be based on their formula’s taste, appearance, originality and value. Formulas featuring 100% whole grains and/or gluten-free ingredients will also be awarded in each division.

In addition to industrywide recognition, the dozen winning bakers will receive a five-day California educational vacation with visits to the Culinary Institute of America, Yosemite National Park and the San Joaquin Valley — home of the California raisins.

To qualify, submitted formulas should be for raisin bread and raisin bakery products currently available in the market or planned for sale in the future. Applications must include color photos of cut cross sections and whole finished loaf. Raisin breads, at a minimum, must include 50% raisins, by weight, to dry flour, while other raisin bakery products must include a minimum of 25% raisins to dry flour weight. California raisin content may include California Natural (Sun-Dried) Seedless Raisins, California Golden Seedless Raisins, other California Raisins, California Raisin Paste and/or California Raisin Juice Concentrate.

The deadline for entries is May 31 for students and July 1 for professionals. Contest applications, rules and additional details are available

For additional information, contact CRMB’s Dori Rothweiler at (559) 248-0287 or