KANSAS CITY — The American Society of Baking has named six industry leaders who will be inducted into the Baking Hall of Fame at BakingTech 2023, which will be held Feb. 28-March 2 in Chicago.
Honorees are Frederick E. Cooper, Flowers Foods and CooperSmith Inc.; Joseph M. Day, Joseph M. Day Co. and Banner Engineering & Sales Inc.; Harold Flynn, Flynn Burner Corp.; G. Michael Gude, Sosland Publishing Co.; and Louis Rotella Sr. and Louis Rotella Jr., Rotella’s Italian Bakery Inc.
“For 2023, the Baking Hall of Fame will recognize six individuals with extraordinary talents for business acumen and political activism, engineering excellence, supportive associations and friendships, as well as strong family baking ties and traditions,” said Rowdy Brixey, chair of the ASB Baking Hall of Fame Evaluation Committee and president of Brixey Engineering Strategies and Training Inc. “These character strengths demonstrate the best of the baking industry.”
Mr. Cooper helped raise the political profile of the baking industry by revitalizing the American Bakers Association’s political action committee, BreadPAC. He served in several capacities for Flowers Foods, including president and vice chairman, and later formed CooperSmith Inc. That company eventually merged with Earthgrains Co. and is now Bimbo Bakeries USA.
Mr. Day is responsible for much of the automation, safety and engineering of today’s bakery ovens. He was the first to develop and refine, market and manufacture direct spark ignition systems to automate and enhance the safety of direct gas-fired tunnel and tray ovens. He worked for Baker Perkins and AMF Bakery Systems, where he designed and patented the diathermic tray oven. Mr. Day founded Joseph M. Day Co., and later took over Banner Engineering & Sales.
Mr. Flynn earned several patents for equipment and processing using gas and flame technology. The ribbon burners he pioneered are part of thousands of direct gas-fired bakery ovens in use throughout the world. Mr. Flynn founded Flynn Burner Corp. in 1946.
Mr. Gude, group publisher for Baking & Snack, Milling & Baking News and Food Business News, is a longtime supporter and community builder in the baking and milling industries. In addition to working 41 years at Sosland Publishing, he has served as president of the Allied Trades of the Baking Industry, chairman of BEMA and treasurer of the Grain Foods Foundation.
“I truly love this industry, and I’m so honored and humbled to even be considered for this award, let alone elected to the Hall of Fame,” Mr. Gude said. “I’m grateful for my colleagues in the industry who have supported me throughout the years and the committee for this honor.”
Both of the Rotellas spent their careers building the family business in Omaha, Neb. Mr. Rotella Sr.’s father started running a small bakery in 1921. The family bakery now occupies three separate sites on a 32-acre campus. Mr. Rotella Sr. started running the business in 1947 with his brother, and Mr. Rotella Jr. took over the day-to-day operations in 1976. Mr. Rotella Sr. was named purveyor of the year for the Omaha Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association. Mr. Rotella Jr. was awarded the Omaha Gold Spike and Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Nebraska, Omaha. He was inducted into the 2019 Nebraska Business Hall of Fame.
With the 2023 inductees, the Baking Hall of Fame will have enshrined 103 individuals from all areas of the baking industry including bakeries, allied ingredient and equipment suppliers, schools, service organizations and media companies.
“The individuals we elect to the Baking Hall of Fame have earned the respect of their customers, suppliers, communities and industry,” Mr. Brixey said. “They inspire our future by their examples.”