Last week saw the presentation to the winners of the 2015 Free From Food Awards.
I’ve been delighted to be a judge in these awards for the last few years and equally happy to judge in the inaugural Free From Eating Out Awards last year.
What I really like about the Free From Food Awards is that they celebrate both the large retailers we free from food folk usually rely on for supplies, as well as the small, and often very niche, retailers.
The Awards party itself has a fabulous atmosphere. It’s impossible not to feel the excitement crackling through the room as the 300 or so invitees wait to hear who has won.
For me it’s a bit like a school reunion. The date is in my diary as soon as I’m invited and I can’t wait! I get to catch up with friends I see fairly regularly as well as those I see perhaps only once a year at the Awards ceremony. And there’s always someone new and interesting to meet.
The full list of Free From Food Award Winners, Highly Commended and Commended products can be found here.
However, I’d like to award a couple of special prizes of my own:
Every Little Helps Award – Tesco
Back when I started this blog, Sainsburys were the supermarket who were very engaged with the Free From community. I went to their HQ for a number of new product development sessions and product launches. While their Free From range is still extensive, it feels a little tired and it’s Tesco who are really leading the way currently on developing new products. On the day of the Awards, Tesco announced record losses of £6.4 billion. During the judging, I tried the Smoked Haddock Fishcakes with Melting Middle which won the Meat and Fishy Ready Meals category. It was delicious and I was speechless it had come from Tesco. I’m not a Tesco shopper as there isn’t one near me but this made me reconsider occasionally going out of my way to stock the freezer up. Every little helps.
OMG Are These REALLY Gluten Free? Award – FEEL FREE DONUTS
I have never tried these donuts before (it’s a real gap in the gluten free market) but they were available in the buffet after the awards’ presentation. I tried them. And went back. And they were so good I went back several times for more. They were crispy on the outside, soft in the inside. They come from in a pack of 4, wrapped individually which I think is a great idea.
Consistently Great Award – Caroline Aherne, Free From Bakehouse
I first met Caroline at the 2011 Awards presentation party. An incident on the train line to the party venue had left me stranded at Clapham Junction. Caroline (who I had never met before) replied to my stranded tweet and picked me up in her car and drove us out to Kew. That night, and since then, Caroline’s delicious sweet and savoury treats – in various forms – have been picking up the accolades. My favourite are her raspberry and white chocolate brownies, for which I’ve been known to take a cab over to Borough Market to buy some of her delicious treats during my lunch hour.
Most excited nominees – Gluten Free Uprising
I absolutely loved chatting to these Welsh guys who won Highly Commended for their ready ro roll gluten free and dairy free short crust pastry. They couldn’t have been more thrilled and were really excited for their top secret future product plans. If enthusiasm and excitement can build a business, these guys are ones to watch.
But I couldn’t write this post without a mention to all the Free From-ers who I managed to catch up with on the night, and those who I didn’t. It’s always such a pleasure to see you all. We are lucky to have a great, supportive community, and it was a lot of fun to celebrate the producers who make our lives a bit easier by producing such tasty, allergy friendly foods.
A big thank you to Michelle and Cressida for inviting me to participate in the judging of the Awards. Well done to Alex for managing to tweet through the results, no mean feat. Huge congratulations to all the nominees and winners as well as whole Free From Food Awards team for another successful Awards. Roll on 2016!
What did you think of the winners this year? Any surprises?