LA Judge Award – half a century of history
“We must tell the story of bread” – Les Judge (1904-1964)
The LA Judge Award for baking apprentice of the year is named after Les Judge, a much-admired baker who entered the industry at 14 and dedicated most of his life to raising the quality of Australian bread.
Les Judge held a range of roles in the Australian and New Zealand bread industries during his 60 years. He was involved in the establishment of the Bread Research Institute of Australia (now AEGIC Sydney), and is best remembered for bridging the gap between bakers, millers and growers to improve wheat and bread quality for the benefit of the whole industry.
A great communicator and diplomat, Les Judge played an important role in persuading farmers to grow better quality wheat — not by bombarding them with technical jargon and rhetoric, but by going to them and baking bread. As the Australasian Baker and Millers’ Journal noted in 1964:
“Many were the loaves of bread he baked and showed to astonished farmers on their home ground to demonstrate the contrast between bread made from Bencubbin (a high-yield, lower-quality wheat variety of the time) and that made from a strong, high-protein wheat.”
Les Judge was a Life Member and past President of the Associated Bread Manufacturers of Australia and New Zealand (ABMANZ), and in the 1950s served as its Federal Wheat Liaison Officer, during which time he did most of the work for which he is remembered. When ABMANZ decided to set up a national baking apprentice award in 1967, Les Judge was the clear choice for the award’s title.
Today, the LA Judge Award is the nation’s most prestigious baking industry award. Since 1967, the LA Judge Award has promoted excellence and celebrated the skills of young baking apprentices. There are many examples of past competitors and winners who have gone on to make their mark in the baking industry.
“Just as the Renaissance of the Middle Ages signified a great awakening in artistic, literary and social activities… so may we, by breaking away from tradition, exchanging ideas, and setting up new ideals, bring about a great awakening in the industry, and thus eventually re-establish Bread as the Staff of Life. We must tell the story of bread; its nutritional advantages — which each day are becoming more generally vouched for by authoritative nutrition scientists — its place in the economic structure of the nation; and above all, we must use to the utmost all our art and skill as tradesmen in perfecting loaves that will have a sort of agreeableness in them which invites the appetite.” – Les Judge: Bread Revival (1939)