AUBURN — The best of the yeast is in America.
A team of four U.S. bakers — coached by Dara Reimers of The Bread Shack in Auburn — won the top prize among bakers this week at an international competition in Rimini, Italy.
It's called the SIGEP Bread Cup International Bakery Contest.
During the three-day event that wrapped up on Tuesday, the Americans bested nine other teams from around the world. They included bakers from Australia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Russia and Slovenia.
"It's pretty amazing to have a baker of her caliber in Auburn, Maine," said partner Carla Randall. "It's a great honor for Dara."
The Center Street bakery trumpeted the win on its website, www.thebreadshack.com, even as Reimers began the trek home. On Thursday evening, she is scheduled to be honored by the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce.
If the schedule holds, she'll arrive home just in time to attend the chamber's annual meeting, Randall said.
The event marks a big week for any baker.
The U.S. team won the top overall prize and the Best Traditional Bread award. The team's four bakers were chosen by the Bread Bakers of America.
In all, the group had to produce four kinds of bread: traditional, healthy, baked dessert and artistic. The artistic bread had to illustrate a theme of environmental sustainability and energy saving.
The team's artistic entry featured a globe on a rustic-looking pedestal.
Reimers, a Montana native, trained at the Notter School of Pastry Arts in Orlando, Fla., and opened The Bread Shack in August 2008.
Her bakery specializes in artisan breads made without additives or commercial yeasts. Each loaf is made slowly, allowing natural fermentation to infuse the dough with flavor and texture. It typically takes 48 hours to produce one loaf.
Though the SIGEP Bread Cup is only in its fifth year, Reimers has twice been a competitor. This was her first year as a coach.
The Sun Journal's efforts to reach her were unsuccessful because she was traveling.
The bread-making contest was part of a massive event that included displays by 730 companies across 14 halls, according to its website. Chefs taught pizza- and pasta-making and oversaw the creation of the world's largest gelato cone, which measured more than 9 feet high.