Bakers Journal

The Inspirational Bakery of the Year

August 24, 2020
By Bakers Journal

"No matter how big or small, as long as you are invested in uplifting those around you – that’s what community means to us and it’s how Ardent Mills operates at every level of our business." — Elaine O'Doherty, Marketing Manager Canada at Ardent Mills

Jake the Baker Inspirational Bakery of the Year Contest

The Jake the Baker contest has been a fixture in the Canadian baking industry for years to highlight the spirit of community giving that bakers bring to local charities and neighbourhoods.

This year, the contest has changed its name to better reflect the values that the founding sponsor espouses. The new name is, ‘Inspirational Bakery of the Year,’ to focus attention on the hope and imagination bakers bring to the table.

“We originally imagined the ‘Jake the Baker’ Contest six years ago to celebrate the amazing things bakeries in Canada were doing with innovation and their delicious baked goods. Three years ago, we shifted the contest to also put a big focus on what bakeries are doing in and for their communities,” said Elaine O’Doherty, Marketing Manager Canada at Ardent Mills. “To reinforce this, we’ve decided to change the name to “Inspirational Bakery of the Year,” an award that truly captures these outstanding contributions and inspires others to share their stories about where they are having a positive impact on their employees, environment and communities.”

The contest still hopes to see bakeries that have put their heart and soul into their baked goods, their business and the clients and neighbourhoods who come through their doors each day. The entries should still talk about what inspired them to open their shop, who puts a smile on their face, and why they chose the baking industry to express themselves.


“We’ve had many incredible entries over the years, so much so that it has always been extremely difficult to select the winner. In next year’s entries, we hope we continue to see how Canadian bakeries — large and small — are lifting each other and their communities up, and inspiring others to do the same,” added O’Doherty. “Whether that’s through innovative products, mentoring their employees, supporting the community or a cause, serving others, and more.”

What sort of entries will catch the judges eyes? What are the judges looking for?

“At Ardent Mills, our values of trust, serving, simplicity and safety are our foundation for how we conduct our business. We’re looking for bakeries who not only uphold those values but go above and beyond to achieve them – whether that’s operating with reliability, integrity, and transparency; serving others with understanding, respect and care; or putting the safety of employees, customer and community first, or a combination!” Enthuses O’Doherty. “We want to hear your stories – what you do, how you do it best, who you sponsor and how it makes a difference in your community. It doesn’t have to be a detailed application listing every single contribution — we want to hear what you’re passionate about and why you support it.”

A great example is 2019’s winner, Dooher’s Bakery. The Dooher family has been in the bakery business for over five generations, and they do so much for their community by not only providing food to the local food bank and school programs, but also by treating their employees like family, and inspiring them to live up to their embedded roots. Take a listen to our podcast here to learn more about their community efforts and why we selected them.

For those who wonder what “community” might mean to bakeries, O’Doherty wants to reassure future contenders that it can mean many things. The baking community, your town, your region or even a specific segment of a population.

“Every community is unique and different, and that’s what makes these stories so inspiring. Whatever your chosen community, what’s important to us is, ‘what are you doing to serve them’ and ‘how are you making a difference?’ It can be as simple as supporting the community through offering people their first jobs, donating money, or contributing to programs that work to solve youth homelessness, end hunger,” explains O’Doherty. “No matter how big or small, as long as you are invested in uplifting those around you – that’s what community means to us and it’s how Ardent Mills operates at every level of our business.”

O’Doherty reassures readers that their entries don’t have to be a detailed list of every single thing that you’re doing. “We want to hear your story and what you’re passionate about. Whether that’s providing free cookies to first responders, donating food to a local food bank or making sure underserved communities have a fighting chance – anything you’re doing for those around you is wonderful, and we want to hear about it.”

Need a place to start? Take a look at past winners such as Dooher’s bakery. They were nominated by an employee fresh out of high school, who was so inspired by the bakery and felt like they were family, that she was compelled to tell their story. So, if you don’t know where to start – ask your family, your friends, your employees, customers, the community – likely, you’re having more of an impact than you think and often times, they can put it into better words than yourself.

“Ardent Mills’ vision is to be the trusted partner in nurturing our customers, consumers and communities through innovative and nutritious grain-based solutions – this vision is deeply embedded in everything we do; and we live every day by serving others with understanding, respect and care,” said O’Doherty. “Bakeries are often the backbone of the community, and we know more than anyone that they are continually doing amazing things to support their communities and make them thrive. Often, outside of the immediate community, this can go unnoticed and we want to change that. There are so many outstanding Canadian bakeries doing so many incredible things, we want to make sure they are recognized for it and inspire others in the process.”

In short, the Inspirational Bakery of the Year is looking for a heart felt story. The type of charity, the length of the entry don’t matter as much. The judges want to know what you’re passionate about and how you’re supporting your community. It’s as simple as that! This year we are encouraging even a quick video shot on your smart phone, and email the link to the contest once it opens.

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