EVERYONE loves the smell of freshly-cooked bread, but for Lismore Baking Show judge Mark Dennien it is serious business when the National Baking Industry Association title is hanging on the line.
Mr Dennien is one of six judges carefully scrutinising this year's entries in the event at the North Coast National.
There's every type of conceivable make of bread, pie or cake, from square white loaves to artisan sourdoughs and ciabattas, sponge cakes to decorated cakes.
There is even a large MS Endeavour bread roll mimicking a sailing ship.
Mr Dennien, who is judging for his fourth year, said scrutinising could be tiring as it involved four hours of consultation over the 378 entries.
"From (a) competitor's perspective, if there is a point difference between here and there as a judge you need to be able to justify that," he said.
"The standard on average across the Northern Rivers is very good.
"We are looking for the texture of the loaf, the aroma, the actual colour of the loaf, and whether there are any imperfections.
"Some loaves might be over-baked or under-baked, or the texture might be too tight or a bit too dense.
Mr Dennien said first, second and third place winners would be displayed at the show at Lismore Showgrounds, while the other entries would go to some very healthy pigs in the area.
"To win a category they (entrants) get fairly competitive," he said.
"There is one bakery in the Northern Rivers area which spends three or four days preparing the entries for this event and purely to get the marketing kudos that comes with winning."