KANSAS CITY, MO — The American Society of Baking (ASB) will induct six industry leaders into the Baking Hall of Fame during special ceremonies at BakingTech 2023, to be held Feb. 28-March 2 in Chicago.

“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, ASB Baking Hall of Fame Evaluation Committee chair and president of Brixey Engineering Strategies and Training. “These character strengths demonstrate the best of the baking industry.”

The Baking Hall of Fame launched in 2006, and this class will mark 103 inductees. They come from all walks of life in the baking industry including bakeries, allied equipment and ingredient suppliers, schools, service organizations, and media companies.

“These individuals we elect have earned the respect of their customers, suppliers, communities and industry,” Brixey continued. “They inspire our future by their examples.”

The class of 2023 includes:


Frederick E. Cooper | Flowers Foods and CooperSmith

When Flowers Foods decided to build through merger and acquisition during the ’80s, it appointed its first general counsel: a young lawyer named Frederick E. “Fred” Cooper, to navigate daunting regulatory and political currents. He later was named the company’s executive VP, president and vice chair.

Cooper guided the organization to become the leading baking company in the South and then one of the three largest in the US. After leaving Flowers in 1989, Cooper formed CooperSmith, Inc., which he later merged with Earthgrains Co. (now Bimbo Bakeries USA). But Cooper’s most important industry contribution may have been his ability to raise the industry’s political influence in Washington DC. He revitalized BreadPAC, the American Bakers Association’s (ABA) political action committee, which, under his leadership, contributed to numerous political campaigns throughout the country, giving ABA considerable clout in Congress.

Joseph M. Day | Joseph M. Day Co. | Banner Engineering & Sales (Banner-Day)

Known as the quintessential “oven man,” Joseph M. Day is responsible for much of the automation, safety and engineering of today’s bakery ovens. He took his Michigan State degree in electrical engineering to Baker Perkins and later AMF, where he designed and patented the diathermic tray oven. In the US Army, Day served in World War II, rising to the rank of major. He was also assigned to Bell Labs during his service and developed advanced analog computer interfaces for radar and anti-aircraft guns.

Returning to civilian life, Day rejoined AMF and founded Joseph M. Day Co. in 1949, which is today managed by the family’s second and third generations. Day brought to market the first automatic oven ignition and flame safeguard systems, and taking over Banner Engineering & Sales in 1959, he commercialized impedance electrical pipe heating systems that impart even and consistent flow to viscous fluids. Day was also 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.


Harold Flynn | Flynn Burner Corp.

The ribbon burners that Harold Flynn pioneered form the heart of thousands of direct gas-fired bakery ovens throughout the world today. He earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the Pratt Institute of Technology, and over the years, he earned numerous patents for equipment and processes using gas and flame technology.

Many of these concerned methods to ensure steady and even heating across multiple gas jets within a single burner. Flynn served as president of Ensign Ribbon Burners during the early ’40s and founded Flynn Burner Corp. in 1946. From 1934 until his passing in 1978, he held numerous positions of leadership in the New Rochelle, NY, community, including trustee of the Iona College Institute of Arts, governor of the New Rochelle Hospital Medical Center and director of the First Winchester and Barclays banks.

G. Michael Gude | Sosland Publishing

With his flair for making friends and abiding commitment to many baking industry associations, G. Michael “Mike” Gude has parlayed his role as publisher of industry trade publications to create lasting relationships in the industry.

Known for his motto, “You can’t fake showing up,” Gude has established long-standing and deep connections with the milling and baking industries and allied suppliers. He has made business connections and played a crucial role in creating an intangible sense of community in commercial baking. Gude has served as president of the Allied Trades of the Baking Industry, chair of BEMA and treasurer of the Grain Foods Foundation. His professional accomplishments have led to the launch of successful publications in a variety of food sector vertical industries. He is also active in the Kansas City community and deeply involved in his Catholic parish.


Louis Rotella Sr. and Louis Rotella Jr. | Rotella’s Italian Bakery

For father and son duo Louis Rotella Sr. and Louis Rotella Jr., baking is as much a family calling as it is a business. When patriarch Alessandro Rotella, Louis Sr.’s father,  immigrated to the US from Calabria, Italy, in 1909, he settled near Omaha, Nebraska to work with the railroad. During a 1921 strike, he soon found himself running a small bakery that became the family trade.

The Rotella customer list grew, and when Louis Sr. returned from service in the US Army in 1947, he and his brother took over the bakery business, moving it into progressively larger sites. Louis Jr. was running production by the time he was in the eighth grade, and in 1976, with the help and guidance of his father, Louis Jr. took over day-to-day business, which has continued to expand. Today, the operation includes three separate sites on a 32-acre campus, which employs the family’s fourth generation. Both men earned the respect of their community with Louis Sr. named Outstanding Italian American for 1973 and 1986 and purveyor of the year for the Omaha Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association. Louis Jr.’s awards include the Omaha Golden Spike and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Nebraska. He was inducted into the 2019 Nebraska Business Hall of Fame.

The full list of the inductees’ accomplishments can be found on ASB’s Baking Hall of Fame page on its website.