Following on from my day spent as part of the team judging for the Free From Food Awards, I was invited to the awards presentation party which took place on the 17th April in the Museum of London, Docklands.
I attended this prestigious event with about 160 of the movers and shakers in the Free From world. There were representatives from many of the major firms such as Juvela, Dr Schar, Sainsbury’s and Tesco along with those from other well known brands such as Mrs Crimbles, Hale & Hearty, Nature’s Path and Amy’s Kitchen. However there was a huge number from smaller independents and individuals like Foodamentalists, Drossa, Sweetcheeks, Conscious Foods and Steph’s FreeFrom Cakes. Also there were quite a few journalists, foodies and bloggers like myself. It was great to see and meet people I’ve followed and interacted with on Twitter, various forums, Facebook and through this blog and I now have the start of a healthy collection of business cards. I think one of the highlights of the evening was meeting Mrs Crimble – who actually turned out to be a man (Jeremy from Stiletto Foods) but was very charming nevertheless.
The atmosphere was definitely one of a networking social; old chums catching up, new friends being made and of course the keen salesmen (and women) circulating the room pointing out the benefits and quality of their products to anyone who would listen. Not that this is a bad thing, otherwise how would I know how delicious Bessant and Drury’s coconut ice cream is, as I didn’t get a chance to taste it on my judging day and now I (hopefully) have a sample on it’s way to me so I can see what all the fuss is about 🙂
The room was suitably dimly lit and impeccably dressed waitresses and waiters plied us with sparkling wine, assorted alcohol free drinks and fresh food on sticks. Of course, one of the best things about any free from event is being able to relax and know that any food being offered will most certainly be gluten free and probably dairy free too! This included the beer which proved to be very popular indeed (although not with me – strictly orange juice with a teeny top up of sparkling wine for me.)
But of course the most important part of the evening was the awards themselves. Michelle opened the proceedings with a rousing speech on the way free from food has improved and continues to improve, but of course also highlighting the fact that there are still a lot of problems to be solved and issues to overcome. A full transcript of Michelle’s speech can be found here.
And then onto the awards themselves. Michelle and Cressida announced the highly commended and commended awards for each category and then congratulated the winner, who was then presented with a certificate and an opportunity to pose for a photo with the patron of the Free From Food Awards, Antony Worrall Thompson.
- The overall winner of the Best Free From Food was Vegusto – Mild Aromatic Dairy-Free Cheese.
- The winner of the Innovation Award was Bessant & Drury – Lemon Dairy-Free Ice Cream.
A good day for the dairy intolerant!
For the categories that I helped to judge, I have listed the winners below. As you can see, the products were all so fantastic that we couldn’t agree on just one winner and had joint winners for all four of our categories!
- Joint winners of Foods manufactured for food service were Red House Foods – Gluten Free Chicken Bites and Sauces of Choice – Sauces for Kids Tikka Sauce
- Joint Winners of Savoury biscuits and snacks were Darling Spuds – Tomato, Olive & Oregano Crisps and Juvela – Crostini Bites
- Joint Winners of Scones, sweet tarts and brownies were Sugargrain – Almond, Apricot and Tahini Flapjack and Sweetcheeks – Almondies
- Joint Winners of Cakes and cake mixes were The Cake Crusader – Gluten, Wheat and Dairy Free Carrot Cake and Sweetcheeks – Maple & Pecan Cupcakes
A full list of winners and commendations can be found here. Do look out for all these lovely new products and give them a try if you can!
Unfortunately I was unable to stay to the end of the party, but it was really great to be invited to be a part of such a friendly and vibrant project and I look forward very much to an even bigger event in 2013.
For a lively and witty run down of the events from a slightly different angle (sideways apparently), and with pictures, see Alex Gazzola’s blog here.
PS – Don’t forget there are lots of lovely gluten free recipes on my blog: http://whosayscoeliacs.com/recipes/
More new recipes coming soon!!