Last week saw the presentation of awards in the annual Free From Food Awards. Now celebrating its 10th year, these awards celebrate the very best of the UK’s free from sector with entrants ranging from tiny independents to our high street supermarkets.
I’ve written here before about how thrilled I am to be part of these awards as a judge for a number of years, including this year.
This year my usual gluten free cocktail crew was a little depleted with the absence of a several of its key members due to parental responsibilities and judging at the Irish Free From Food Awards. But even so, I was delighted to catch up with many old (and new!) friends in the free from sector. I hadn’t managed to get further than visiting the cloakroom before I’d bumped into the lovely Grace Cheetham. (On a side note it seems inconceivable that a whole year has passed since I last saw Grace at these awards – time goes so fast these days).
The awards were presented by chef Anthony Worrall Thompson who has been handing out the awards since their inception 10 years ago. In their first year, the awards ceremony was held in Anthony’s Notting Hill restaurant. Ten years later and the venue is the impressive Royal College of Physicians.
This year the awards were announced and winners presented swiftly. I liked this, but even I (and I have previous form on fast tweeting the winners) had trouble keeping up with tweeting the events live.
The full list of gold, silver and bronze winners for 2017 can be found on the Food Matters Free From Food Awards page.
These are my highlights of the winning products.
Winner of the FAIR trophy for the best Free From Food in 2016 were these BFree sweet potato wraps. I had been a judge in the category in which these were entered and I really agree that these are an innovative product. They’re free from ALL of the top 14 allergens, contain only 95 calories each, are high in fibre and they are delicious.
Unfortunately Ocado (where I do my food shopping) do not stock these wraps, although they do have the multigrain wraps. I hope they start stocking them soon. Interestingly, I found them everywhere in Australia on my trip over Christmas and New Year. They really do hold together well and the taste definitely adds to the filling.
Bellfield Bewery – Bohemian Pilsner
This Edinburgh based brewery was a new one to me. Also, I love the packaging of these beers. Great design.
I was impressed with the flavour of the Bohemian Pilsner. Deeper in flavour than the usual Celia or Daura I normally buy, I’ve just taken delivery of an order for this pilsner and it’s got a thumbs up from the gluten eaters (of legal drinking age!) in my house too. As of posting this blog, it’s currently on special offer via the online store.
West Cornwall Gluten and Dairy Free Cornish Pasty
I have only tried a small slice of this from the Winners’ buffet so of course the only thing for it is to track down a full size one. The piece I tried was more filling than pastry – exactly as I like a Cornish pastry.
I like the efforts this company has put into producing this pasty. Not only are the pasties produced in a dedicated gluten free factory, but the company also performs random sample lab testing to confirm they are gluten free and that they contain less than 20ppm. But that’s not all! Once they’ve left the factory, they’re transported, baked and served in the bag to prevent cross contamination. You can check here for a list of stockists. London’s Waterloo station it is!
Yau’s Thai Style Satay Sauce
Although peanuts are not one of the nuts I’m allergic to, I generally avoid all nuts. Consequently, eating satay sauce isn’t something I’ve done for some time. I thoroughly enjoyed this nut free satay sauce I’ll be tracking down a jar.
This gluten free, wheat free, nut free as well as soya, egg and dairy free loaf also does not contain refined sugar. Despite being free from so many ingredients, it tastes fantastic. It’s Caroline’s best selling loaf at Borough Market and it’s easy to see why, it’s so good!
I was standing with Caroline for the presentation of the awards. We’ve met many times over the years and I know how committed she is to producing great tasting allergy free food. As the bronze and silver winners were being announced Caroline was (far too modestly) saying she wouldn’t be winning against such great competition in the Tea Time category. When her loaf was announced as a winner of the gold award, she genuinely couldn’t believe it.
To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Free From Food Awards, a special Super Hero Award was awarded to Clare Marriage of Doves Farm Foods for the huge contribution Dove’s flours and foods have made to the Free From industry over the last 10 years.
Finally a few more photos:
Only one packet of these remained on the winners’ buffet when I passed along the line. I was bold enough to open them and – in an instant – hands swooped from nowhere and they were gone. No wonder, they were a real treat!
I recalled as I sat on my Tube commute writing this blog post that I’d popped one of these in the side pocket of my handbag and hadn’t eaten it. They’re small chocolate covered biscuits that reminded me a little of a Club or Breakaway biscuit (do they even still make those?!). Perfect for lunch boxes. Or side pockets of handbags.
Each year I’ve attended the awards we’ve taken a group photo, here’s the 2017 vintage!
A huge thank you to Michelle, Cressida and the whole team for another fantastic year of the Free From Food Awards. I think everyone who’s been involved as a judge or entrant to the Free From Food Awards would agree that Michelle and her team are all Free From Super Heroes!