The winners of the Bread Heroes campaign by Tiptree World Bread Awards USA supported by the International Baking Industry Exposition were announced on Wednesday in a special online awards evening, celebrating the endeavors of the bread community.
Niedlov's Bakery in Chattanooga was crowned Runner Up in Bread Hero of the Southeast. The bakery was lauded for its commitment to quality bread and the local community.
When Erik and Lauren Zilen bought Niedlov's in 2015, they wanted to "bring rustic, naturally leavened loaves of bread to our family and friends in East Tennessee, and to serve the community through the process of baking bread."
The Niedlov’s bakers are up at 4 a.m., making all their bread and pastries by hand, from scratch, using pure ingredients and centuries-old techniques.
Mr. and Mrs. Zilen are committed to giving back to the community. Niedlov's do this in a number of ways: from donating bread and pastries to healthcare workers, food kitchens and local farmers, hiring people who are rejoining the workforce after incarceration, to setting up a fund for those experiencing barriers to employment.
Sustainability is also important to them. Niedlov’s Breadworks has maintained an active composting program since 2002, and now Niedlov’s generates over 1,300 pounds of compostable food waste every month, and diverts over 15,600 pounds of waste from local landfills each year.
In normal times, the Tiptree World Bread Awards celebrates the bread; hundreds of loaves would be delivered to Manhattan for assessment by a panel of esteemed judges. Building on the success of last year, the Awards once again celebrated the USA’s Bread Heroes - the people behind the loaves: from farmers and millers, to bakers and educators.
Nominations for the Bread Heroes came in from across the USA. "All the nominees in this year’s Awards truly deserve recognition for their generous, considerate and often altruistic initiatives to help others," said Stephen Hallam, chairman of the judges.
This year’s judging panel, chaired by Mr. Hallam, included Zachary Golper, Baker and James Beard Foundation Award nominee, Bien Cuit, Dana Cowin, Founder, Speaking Broadly and Maurizio Leo, The Perfect Loaf.
In addition to the regional awards, there were a selection of special awards. These included the Tiptree Outstanding Achievement Award, IBIE Innovation Award, Brook Bake Dream Team, Home Baker Bread Hero, and Sustainability Hero.
"We’ve been exporting Tiptree jam to the USA for decades, and in normal times I’d be popping over to meet the retailers and bakers who use our products,’ said Scott Goodfellow, joint managing director, Tiptree. ‘I can’t do that right now, but what I can do is recognize the contribution that American bakers have made to their communities in challenging times. It’s inspiring to read their stories."
One of the judging panel, Babette Kourelos, wwner, baker and educator @Babette's Bread said, "These stories serve as a reminder of the versatility of bread and the immense generosity of bakers."