As the 2020 American Bakers Association (ABA)’s annual technical conference opened virtually this year, the association awarded two graduates of its Cookie and Cracker Manufacturing Course.

Lauren Clark, product development specialist at Dare Foods, Cambridge, Ont., received the 2019 Vander Heide Award. The award was established in 1940 and is awarded to the Cookie and Cracker Manufacturing Course graduate with the highest grade point average.

“The course was very informative, and I was able to apply the knowledge I learned on a daily basis in my work,” Ms. Clark said as she thanked ABA for the award.

Ms. Clark has been at Dare Foods for five years, working on cookie, cracker and fine bread applications. She has contributed to innovation, renovation and productivity projects as well as helping the operations team optimize and troubleshoot formulations.

Christine Leyland, senior product development manager at Dare Foods, presented Ms. Clark the award virtually.

“Everyone at Dare Foods is proud of her accomplishment,” she said.

Rachel Schulz (left), technical manager, Arnott's Biscuits, presented the Phelps Award to Grant Wilson, quality coordinator. Source: American Bakers Association
The Phelps Award, given to the student with the second-highest grade point average, was awarded to Grant Wilson, quality coordinator for Arnott’s Biscuits in Marleston, Australia. The Phelps Award was given for the first time in 2016 and was established in honor of the course’s pioneer Kathy Kinter Phelps. The award was presented in Australia by his supervisor, Rachel Schulz, technical manager at Arnott’s.

“It is a very prestigious award, and as far as we know no one at Arnott’s has won an award from ABA, so we are very proud of you,” she said.

Mr. Wilson has been with Arnott’s for 12 years and is known for his passion, hard work and humor. Surprised by the award ceremony, he thanked the ABA for the honor and his colleagues.

“Thank you for turning up and surprising me,” he said. “I thought I was in trouble.”

The Cookie and Cracker Manufacturing Course, the advanced training program for the industry, is a part of the ABA’s Bakers Manufacturing Academy. Students who take the two-year course master the principles, science and theory of effective cookie and cracker manufacturing.

“Especially during these challenging times, it’s important to recognize the hard work and dedication of our industry’s essential employees,” said Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the ABA. “The value of ongoing education and training for the skilled professionals in our industry cannot be understated.”