Awards

In praise of FreeFrom Food Awards 2015 sponsors

sponsors-supportersHome again after a trip to London yesterday to go to the Awards ceremony for the FreeFrom Food Awards 2015 (yes, I served as judge again this year).

And what a great evening it was… it gets bigger every year as the variety of free from food available grows. And the quality of the products is getting better every year too, as companies are having to up their game in order to compete in this growing market.

You can see the full list of winners here but I want to tell you about the sponsors.

Organising awards like the FreeFrom Food Awards is a complex (and costly) affair, and the Awards team do an amazing job.

When I tell you that for just one of the categories I helped judge this year there were 55 entrants, and 11 judges, and that for another every dish had to be prepared separately to reach the table in its best possible condition, you’ll begin to understand that the coordination required is huge. There are a panel of about 70 judges overall, and 17 categories, with many products in each… It’s a lot of work, particularly since the number of categories and entrants grows every year.

And it wouldn’t be possible at all without the help of the companies who sponsor each category of award. Please do read to see who they are, and visit their own websites to learn more about what they do for the free from sector.

This year, those companies are:

  • Tesco, who sponsored Breakfast Foods

    Tesco had a great night, winning Best Retailer overall, and with several successful products, including their savoury party pack selection and their haddock fishcakes. Tesco have really enhanced their product range recently, and we’re delighted.

  • Genius, who sponsored the Bread category

    Genius also had a winner, with their gluten free and dairy free pains au chocolat (yes, read that again: dairy free). These are not often to be found in the supermarket near us, because they get snapped up so quickly. They’re good – and to be honest, we hadn’t even realised they were dairy free!

  • Sainsburys’, who sponsored the Store Cupboard section

    Sainsbury’s, like Tesco, are one of the big four supermarket chains here in the UK, and have been a reliable source of gluten free products for us for years. Some of their products are staples in our house, such as the baguettes – and the mini chocolate logs are a good treat.

  • Integrated Food Projects Ltd sponsored Pasta and Pizza

    Integrated Food Projects are a new sponsor for the FFFA, and they project-manage the development of food factories. They have an impressive client list, including the big supermarkets (and many others you’ll have heard of). Have a look at the list of services they offer; I’d no idea how much goes into building a new food factory.

  • Tiana Fair Trade Organics sponsored Raw Foods and Superfoods

    Tiana are experts in coconut products, which are becoming increasingly popular (have you noticed?). They import and manufacture a range of high quality organic and fair trade products in the food and beauty sectors. Their products are sold to retailers, wholesalers, the catering trade and the food production industry, as well as exported to other countries – and you can buy the products at their online shop.

  • Food and Drink Innovation Network sponsored Food to Go and Vending Machines

    The Food and Drink Innovation Network organise food and drink industry conferences and webinars in the UK, with a particular interest in innovation – not just product innovation, but best practice and innovation across the industry. (I’ve just subscribed to their newsfeed – there’s all sorts of interesting information in there).

  • Udi’s sponsored the ‘Down the pub and the bar’ category

    My coeliac daughter loves Udi’s bagels. Fairly new to this country, Udi’s seem to be adding new products to their range all the time. If you haven’t tried their bagels, you should: the plain and the chocolate chip are the current favourites here.

  • Genon Laboratories sponsored the Meat/Fish ready meals category

    Genon Laboratories is a UKAS accredited testing lab, offering niche analytical services to the food (and feed) industries. Of course, we’re mostly interested in their Food Allergen Testing service, but they offer a range of services to food producers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. This stuff matters! (Have a look at their Test in A Box site, too).

  • Goodness Direct sponsored the Veggie ready meals category

    GoodnessDirect is a long-established and successful online supermarket, selling a wide range of healthy, free from, eco and organic foods. The thing we like best about GoodnessDirect is that you can filter the products by diet, so you see only the products that are suitable for your needs. And some products can only be found there (especially if you live out in the rurals, like me). They told me last night that their new mobile site is now live too – so go and check it out.

  • Wellaby’s sponsored the Foods for Treenut/Peanut allergics category

    Wellaby’s produce a range of gluten free snacks, in a dedicated gluten free facility. Looking at their website, I can see that some of the products are chips+dips products; we’ve got to try those. I’ll see if I can find out where we can buy them…

  • Delamere Dairy sponsored the Foods for Children category

    I’m assuming everyone in the country knows who Delamere Dairy are? They sell specialty dairy products, including goat dairy products and soya products, and you’ll find their products on a supermarket shelf near you. They’re based very near me (not that I’m biased).

  • Mrs Crimbles sponsored the Tea Time category

    Mrs Crimbles is probably best known for their macaroons, which are widely available. But they have a much wider range than that, including snacks, crackers and stuffing mix. Plus, I learn from the Food & Drink Innovation Network (see above) that they’ve recently launched a new range of pasta and sauce packets. Check them out…

  • Romer Labs UK sponsored the Desserts and Puddings category

    Romer Labs are experts in food safety diagnostics, and run fully accredited service labs. They help ensure the highest quality standards at all stages of the supply chain in the agricultural, food and feed industries – and they have a complete portfolio for gluten testing, both in the lab, and in factories.

  • Free-From Heaven sponsored the Confectionery and chocolate category

    Free-From Heaven publish a series of magazines dedicated to free-from cooking and baking, so whether your interest is in dairy free, sugar free, gluten free, paleo or vegan cooking, there’ll be recipes in their magazines that will suit you. The magazines are available in supermarkets and other magazine stockists, as well as available for subscription online.

  • Holland & Barrett sponsored the Bars category

    I expect you know who Holland & Barrett are. They are a long established health food chain, with shops in high streets across the country. They sell a range of free from products in their shops – but they also have an online shop (which I didn’t realise until today). For a long time, high street health food shops were one of the few places you could find free from foods. Things are easier now, but they still play an important role.

  • Oakland International sponsored the Retailer of the Year category

    Oakland International are a food storage, picking, packing and distribution company, transporting food using ambient, chilled and frozen transportation. They deliver to retailers, convenience stores and food service outlets, but they will also help with trade shows and other events. They offer one of those services that consumers tend not to notice; but we wouldn’t be able to have the variety of choice that we do, without these services.

  • Food Matters Live sponsored the Innovation Award

    The Food Matters Live conference will be in the ExCeL centre, London, in November this year, and is the first cross-sector event bringing together professionals from across the food and drink industry, nutrition and health to explore the relationship between food, health and nutrition. It should be fascinating…

These awards make a big difference to those companies, big and small, whose products were shortlisted, commended, highly commended or winners, creating new opportunities for the businesses and publicising their products to consumers. And as I said, it wouldn’t happen without the sponsors.

FreeFrom Food Awards 2015: The Shortlist

I said the shortlist for the FreeFrom Food Awards 2015 would be out soon – here it is! And what a shortlist…

Details of the shortlist, the judges, the process – including the criteria – and the sponsors are all available on the FreeFrom Foods website. It’s definitely worth having a look – you can see some of the judges hard at work over the 2 weeks of judging. (Not me, luckily: you can bet I’d have my mouth full of cake at the moment the camera clicked!)

The winners will be announced on April 22, at an Awards event in London. It’s exciting!

The Shortlist (in alphabetical order)

The Innovation Award – Sponsored by Food Matters Live

  1. Bfree Fajita Kit
  2. Booja Booja Chilled Chocolate Truffle Selection
  3. Cereal Lovers Simply Apple & Blackcurrant Granola
  4. Farabella Pasta Orechiette
  5. Feelgood Foodies Uprising Ready-To-Roll Shortcrust Pastry 
  6. Just Gluten Free Good White Bread
  7. Kirsty’s GF & DF Beef Lasagne with a Rich Bolognese Sauce
  8. Mash Direct Vegetable Burgers with Spring Cabbage
  9. PureBred Pancake Mix
  10. Squeeze Juice Ready to Drink Wheatgrass Shots
  11. Sweet Goodness SOLOaf Single Serve GF Bread Mix 
  12. The Paleo Food Company Honey & Pecan Grain-free Granola

Breakfast foods – Sponsored by Tesco

Breakfast cereals:

  1. Cereal Lovers Forest Crunch Breakfast Cereal
  2. Delicious Alchemy GF & DF Purely Oaty Fruity Muesli
  3. Dr Gaye Super Shake Super-Porridge
  4. Nairn’s GF Scottish Porridge Oats
  5. Primal Joy Foods Maple & Pecan Nut Crunch
  6. Rude Health Organic Sprouted Porridge Oats
  7. The Paleo Foods Co Honey & Pecan Grain-Free Granola
  8. The Paleo Foods Co Berry & Almond Grain-Free Granola

‘Milks’ and yogurts:

  1. Coconut Merchant Coconut Jam
  2. Delamere Dairy Goats butter
  3. Dream Hazelnut & Almond Praline Drink
  4. COYO DF Coconut Milk Yoghurt Morello Cherry
  5. Pudology Natural Yoghurt
  6. Rhythm Health Coconut & Pomegranate (Kefir One Shot Drink)
  7. Rhythm Health Pure Coconut (Kefir One Shot Drink)
  8. Rude Health Coconut Drink
  9. The Coconut Collaborative DF Large Natural Coconut Yoghurt

Baked breakfast goods:

  1. Amy’s Kitchen GF Breakfast Sandwich
  2. Bfree Multiseed Bagels
  3. Cambridge Muffin Co Brunch Muff
  4. Genius Gluten Free Crumpets
  5. Genius Gluten Free Pain au Chocolat
  6. Goodness Grains Gluten Free Bakery Sesame Seed Bagel
  7. Sainsbury’s FF 6 Syrup Pancakes

Breads – Sponsored by Genius Gluten Free

  1. Bfree Brown Seeded Loaf
  2. Bfree Soft White Loaf
  3. Bfree Brown Seeded Rolls
  4. Bfree Multigrain Wraps
  5. DS-gluten free Frozen White Rolls 
  6. Goodness Grains Gluten Free Bakery Bread Bap with Sesame Seeds
  7. JUST: Gluten Free Bakery Good White Bread
  8. PureBred Wholegrain Sandwich Rolls
  9. Rule of Crumb Part Baked Mini Baguette
  10. Smart Eats & Treats Kmaje (Yeast Free Pitta Bread)
  11. Smart Eats & Treats Rosemary & Olive Oil Focacette
  12. Smart Eats & Treats Za’tar Manakish (Yeast Free Flat Bread)
  13. Tesco Free From Fresh Seeded Bread
  14. Udi’s Gluten Free Tiger Bloomer

Store cupboard – Sponsored by Sainsbury’s

Savoury mixes & sauces:

  1. Gordon Rhodes A Jolly Fine GF Gourmet Sage & Onion Stuffing Mix
  2. Mrs Crimbles Home Bake Sage & Onion Stuffing Mix 
  3. Sweet Goodness SOLOaf Single Serve GF Bread Mix 
  4. Vegusto No-Moo Rac
  5. Ilumi Sweet Soy & Ginger Stir Fry Sauce 
  6. Sacla Free From Basil Pesto 
  7. Sanchi  Tamari Soy Sauce
  8. Tesco Free From Sweet & Sour Sauce 
  9. The Foraging Fox Beetroot Ketchup
  10. Yau’s Black Bean Sauce
  11. Yau’s Zum Sauce 

Miscellaneous Savoury:

  1. Quinola Mothergrain Express Quinoa with Split Peas
  2. Ambu Tree Spicy Tandoori Marinade
  3. Asda Free From CousCous 
  4. BFree Multigrain Wraps
  5. Hotch Potch GF Cheesy pastry
  6. Pulsetta Foods GF Breadcrumbs
  7. Raw Health Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
  8. Slendier Organic Spaghetti Style 

Sweet:

  1. Coconut Merchant Coconut Sugar
  2. Delicious Alchemy GF & DF Vanilla Sponge Mix
  3. Fria Swedish Style Puff Pastry
  4. Mrs O’s Fuss Free Mixes Egg Free Scrumptious Gingerbread Mix 
  5. Orgran No Egg, Natural Egg Replacer 
  6. Udi’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Brownie Mix

Pasta and Pizza – Sponsored by Integrated Food Projects Ltd

Pasta, fresh and dried:

  1. Asda FF Dried Lasagne Sheets
  2. Bionita GF Plain Gnocchi
  3. Clearspring Organic GF Brown Rice Wide Noodles 
  4. Explore Asian Edamame & Mung Bean Fettuccine 
  5. Farabella GF Fresh Orechiette Pasta
  6. Garofalo GF Casarecce
  7. Garofalo GF Linguine
  8. Rizopia Organic Brown Rice Spaghetti

Pizza Bases & Complete Pizzas:

  1. Georgia’s Choice Margherita Pizza
  2. Georgia’s Choice Pepperoni Pizza
  3. Sainsbury’s FFMargarita Pizza
  4. Venice Bakery 3 pack Medium Pizza Bases

Raw Foods and superfoods  – Sponsored by Tiana Fair Trade Organics

  1. Amazing Grass Raw Reserve Berry 
  2. Decadently Pure Salted Caramel Pecan Raw Chocolate Bar
  3. Dr Gaye Super Shake Super-Spoonful
  4. inSpiral Visionary Products Organic, Raw Kale Chips – Incan BBQ
  5. Le Pain Des Fleurs Organic Quinoa Crispbread
  6. LoveRaw Organic Superblends 
  7. Marvellous Superfood Super Protein
  8. Mello Drinks Raw Fresh Cantaloupe Melon Juice
  9. Nosh Detox The Raw Cashew Nut Pesto 
  10. Nosh Detox The Raw Tomato Soup
  11. Rawr Foods Raw Organic After Dinner Mint Chocolate Bar
  12. SaVse Super Green Smoothie
  13. Squeeze Juice Ready to Drink Wheatgrass Shots
  14. Sunwarrior Raw Organic Ormus Supergreens
  15. Sweet Revolution Instant Hot Chocolate
  16. Sweet Virtues Super Food Chocolate Truffles Baobab & Vanilla

‘Food to go’ and food for vending machines – Sponsored by The Food and Drink Innovation Network

  1. Cambridge Muffin Co Cheese & Sundried Tomato Muff
  2. Coconut Merchant Coconut Chips
  3. Karkli Karkli
  4. Of The Earth Instant Superfoods Cereal Pot – Power of Red
  5. Quinola Mothergrain Kids Mediterranean
  6. Rude Health Mini Corn Thins
  7. Rude Health Mini Rice Thins
  8. Sainsbury’s Dark Chocolate Corn Thins
  9. Ten Acre Crisps How Chicken Soup Saved the Day
  10. The Primal Pantry Coconut & Macadamia Paleo Bar
  11. Voakes Free From Traditional Pork Pie 

Down the Pub and the Bar – Sponsored by Udi’s Gluten Free 

Gluten-free beers:

  1. CELIA lager
  2. Daas Ambre
  3. Daura Damm GF Lager
  4. Green’s Beers India Pale Ale
  5. Green’s Beers Dry Hopped Lager
  6. Monty’s Brewery Masquerade
  7. Stringer’s Beer Outlook Golden Ale
  8. Stringer’s Beer Outlook Amber Ale
  9. Westerham Brewery Bohemian Rhapsody – Kent Craft Pilsner
  10. Westerham Brewery Hop Rocket India Pale Ale

Savoury snacks:

  1. Angelic Gluten Free Rosemary & Sea Salt Biscuits
  2. Clearspring Snack Organic Tamari Roasted Sicilian Almonds
  3. Vegusto No-Moo New Classic
  4. DS-gluten free Pretzels
  5. Freed Foods GF Crispbread with Chia and Sesame Seed
  6. Karkli Karkli
  7. Nairn’s GF Wholegrain Cracker
  8. Quibbles Chilli Chilli Bang Bang! aka the orange bag
  9. Sainsbury’s Corn Thins 
  10. Softsage Veggie Rosemary Dough Balls
  11. Tesco FF Savoury Party Pack Selection
  12. The Italian Corner L’Alpino Osella Lactose Free Full Fat Soft Cheese 

Meaty and Fishy Ready Meals – Sponsored by Genon Laboratories

  1. Afia’s WF & GF Lamb Samosa
  2. Genius Gluten Free Denby Dale Chicken & Gravy Pie
  3. Georgia’s Choice Cod Fishcakes
  4. Hotch Potch GF Ploughmans Pie 
  5. Hotch Potch GF Red Onion Smoked Bacon & Cheesy Sauce Pie
  6. Kirsty’s GF & DF Beef Lasagne with a Rich Bolognese Sauce
  7. Kirsty’s Spanish Chicken with Brown Rice
  8. Slim Pasta Spaghetti Bolognese
  9. Rule of Crumb Chicken Goujons
  10. Rule of Crumb Chicken Kiev
  11. Sainsbury’s FreeFrom Chicken Hot Pot
  12. Sainsbury’s FreeFrom Pork Sausages
  13. Tesco FF Pulled Ham & Cheddar Crispbake
  14. Tesco FF Smoked Haddock Fishcakes with a Melting Middle 
  15. Tesco finest* British Traditional Pork Sausages
  16. The Black Farmer Pork & Apple Burgers
  17. Voakes Free From Pork & Chilli Chutney Pie
  18. Voakes Free FromSteak & Ale Pie
  19. Watmuff & Beckett Chorizo & Butternut Squash Risotto

Veggie Ready Meals – Sponsored by Goodness Direct

  1. Quinola Mothergrain Express Quinoa Spicy Mexican
  2. Amy’s Kitchen GF Manhattan Veggie Burger
  3. Amy’s Kitchen GF Chinese Noodles & Veggies
  4. Christine’s Puddings Taste of the Med Savoury Tart
  5. Clive’s Pies GF Mushroom & Leek Pie
  6. Georgia’s Choice Mexican Bean Bake
  7. Senza GF Chestnut Mushroom & Blue Cheese Quiche
  8. Smart Eats & Treats Vegan Red Onion & Courgette Quiche
  9. Tesco FF Mature Cheddar Cheese & Onion Crispbake
  10. Tideford Organic Red Lentil Soup with Apricots & Chillies

Foods manufactured in a nut-free environment – Sponsored by Wellaby’s

  1. Big Oz Organic 5 Grain Super Cereal 
  2. Cereal Lovers Simply Orange Granola with orange pieces
  3. ilumi Chicken Za’tar
  4. Orgran Mini Outback Animals Chocolate Cookies
  5. Pudology Chocolate Orange Pud
  6. Sweet Mandarin GF Hoisin Sauce
  7. Sweet Mandarin Nut Free GF Satay 
  8. Udi’s Gluten Free Parmesan & Garlic Bagel Chips 

Foods designed for children – Sponsored by Delamere Dairy 

  1. Rule of Crumb Chocolate balls
  2. Cocoa Libre Alternative to Milk Chocolate Orange Frogs
  3. Georgia’s Choice Chicken Bites
  4. Georgia’s Choice Chicken Grills
  5. Moo Free Merry Moos Selection Box
  6. Quinola Mothergrain Baby Swede and Parsnip
  7. Quinola Mothergrain Kids’ Tex Mex
  8. Rizopia Organic Brown Rice Pasta Fantasia
  9. Sainsbury’s FreeFrom White chocolate Easter egg
  10. Softsage Veggie Cheese Dough Balls
  11. Tesco FreeFrom Chocolate and Coconut Milkshake
  12. Zero Zebra Cool School 26 Chocolate Letters

Tea Time! – Sponsored by Mrs Crimbles

  1. Asda Free From Caramel Rice Square 
  2. Asda Free From Triple Chocolate Cookies 
  3. Asda Free From Fruit & Oat Cookies
  4. Bakestone Bakery Vegan Double Chocolate Chip Muffin
  5. Bakestone Bakery Welsh Cake
  6. FEEL FREE for Gluten Free Donuts
  7. The Foods of Athenry Honeyed Almond & Rosemary SodaBread Toasts
  8. The Foods of Athenry Flapjacks ‘The Works’ Mini Bites
  9. Fria Gluten Free Chocolate Muffin
  10. Genius Gluten Free Lemon CupCake
  11. Goodness Grains Gluten Free Bakery Chocolate Muffin
  12. Goodness Grains Gluten Free Bakery Chocolate Brownie
  13. Goodness Grains Gluten Free Bakery Cinnamon Swirls Danish Pastries
  14. Lazy Day Foods Ginger Tiffin (Belgian Chocolate & Stem Ginger)
  15. Lovemore Gingerbread Men 
  16. Marnie Searchwell Chocolate & Olive Oil Cake
  17. Marnie Searchwell Jamaica Ginger Cake
  18. Marnie Searchwell Luxury Jamaica Christmas Cake
  19. Mummy Bakes Italian Almond Biscotti 
  20. Punku Quinoa Foods Chocolate Chips Quinoa Cookies 
  21. PureBred Jammies 
  22. PureBred Lemon Muffins
  23. Sainsbury’s Free From Pecan Tarts
  24. Sainsbury’s Free From Stem Ginger Cookies
  25. Sainsbury’s Free From Hot Cross Buns
  26. Senza GF Cherry Bakewell
  27. Tesco finest* FF Triple Chocolate Cookies 
  28. Tesco finest* FF Belgian Chocolate Brownie
  29. The Free From Bakehouse Rosemary & Raisin Cookies
  30. Twice as Nice Bakery ANZACS Biscuits
  31. Twice as Nice Bakery Earl Grey Shortbread Biscuits
  32. Udi’s Gluten Free Chocolate Flavour Sandwich Cookies 
  33. Udi’s Gluten Free Cashew Nut & Salted Caramel Cookies 

Desserts and Puddings – Sponsored by Romer Labs UK 

Hot puddings:

  1. Christine’s Puddings Jam Sponge Potted Pud
  2. Genius Gluten Free Denby Dale Apple Pie 
  3. Glamour Puds Raspberry Bakewell Tart 
  4. Glamour Puds Treacle Sponge 
  5. Sainsbury’s Freefrom Bramley Apple Pies
  6. Sainsbury’s Freefrom Sticky Toffee Pudding
  7. Tesco finest* Free From Christmas Pudding with Courvoisier VS Cognac
  8. Tesco FF Melt in the Middle Belgian Chocolate Puddings 

Cold or frozen desserts:

  1. Antonio Russo Caribbato Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee DF Iced Dessert
  2. Antonio Russo Chocolato Belgian Dark Chocolate with a zest of Orange DF Iced Dessert
  3. Asda Chosen By You Mango Sorbet
  4. Booja-Booja Pompompous Maple Pecan Ice Cream Alternative
  5. CocoNuts ‘Island Days’ Raw Cacao Organic DF Ice Cream Alternative
  6. Coconut Collaborative DF Mango & Passionfruit Coconut Milk Yoghurt 
  7. Coconut Collaborative Mango Snowconut Frozen Yoghurt
  8. Almond Dream Mint Choc Chip Ice Cream
  9. Jollyum Passion Fruit & Chocolate DF Ice Cream
  10. Taywell NOSH (No Added S(h)ugar) Strawberry Ice Cream
  11. Tesco FF Sweet Party Selection
  12. Tesco FF Italian Coffee Style Dessert
  13. Tesco FF Creamy Vanilla Iced Dessert
  14. Yee Kwan Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream
  15. Yummy Lollies Apple & Mango 

Confectionery and Chocolate – Sponsored by FreeFrom Heaven

  1. Booja-Booja Rhubarb & Vanilla Fool Chocolate Truffles
  2. Cocoa Libre Dark Mint Chocolate Knackali
  3. Doisy & Dam Maca, Vanilla & Cacao Nibs
  4. Kinnerton Confectionery DF Hollow Santa
  5. Kinnerton Confectionery DF Bar
  6. Moo Free Cheeky Orange Bar
  7. Ombar Coco Mylk Buttons
  8. Sweet Virtues Super Food Chocolate Truffles Baobab & Vanilla
  9. Sweet Virtues Super Food Chocolate Truffles Chia Seeds & Lime
  10. Sweet Virtues Super Food Chocolate Truffles Maqui Berry
  11. Vego Chocolate Bar

Bars – cereal, fruit, superfood, grain-free etc – Sponsored by Holland & Barrett 

  1. Creative Nature Blissful Berry Bar
  2. FEEL FREE for Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
  3. Get Fruity Juicy Apricot, Orange & Ginger Bar
  4. Get Fruity Moist Mixed Berry Bar
  5. Get Fruity Scrumptious Strawberry Bar
  6. Natural Balance Foods Nakd Bakewell Tart
  7. Primal Joy Foods Coconut Paleo Bar
  8. Sainsbury’s Choc ‘n’ Crispie Bar
  9. The Primal Pantry Hazelnut & Cocoa Paleo Bar
  10. Traidcraft Geobar Fruity – Carrot & Stem Ginger

Free From Dilemmas: How to Judge

free-from-foods-awardsIt’s ‘just’ gluten free…

I can’t tell you how many times that came up last week, as we ate our way through over 25 different vegetarian gluten free ready meals, and 55 tea-time items (cakes and biscuits).

Yes, I was in London again, on the panel of judges for two of the sessions of the Free From Food Awards 2015—and I felt I needed someone to roll me home afterwards. You may think that 55 tiny pieces of cake would be fab, but actually, it probably adds up to be the equivalent of one big birthday cake.

It’s always great to join the panel – interesting people with strong views not only about the free from world but also about each piece of cake – but I won’t be able to eat another piece of chocolate cake for a few weeks!

The ‘just’ gluten free comment came up as part of the many discussions we had during the course of the day. Here’s the thing:

  • there are many potential allergens. Which is better, a product that is delicious but ‘just’ gluten free (that is, it isn’t also dairy free, or egg free, etc), or one that is free from multiple allergens?
  • And another angle on it: which is better, a product that tries to mimic a ‘normal’ product, or one that tries to do something completely different, with unexpected and interesting results?
  • And: does the world really need another gluten free chocolate muffin (or more chocolate brownies) – and of the many chocolate cakes that already exist, which is better?

It became clear that our expectations of free from food are now very high indeed, which meant that we can now be very picky about the quality of the pastry, for example, rather than just marvelling that it had been done at all.

Having tasted some amazing products – ones that are ‘just’ gluten free, and ones that are great without any of the major allergens – we have set the bar high. Or rather, the manufacturers of these modern products are increasingly raising the bar. And some manufacturers are being left behind.

It is now much easier to find free from products that are indistinguishable from ‘normal’ – products that you could offer to guests without embarrassment or explanation, and with the expectation that they would enjoy them.

Not necessarily like-for-like replication; some ‘normal’ products rely so heavily on gluten, say, to give them their unique properties (I’m looking at you, croissants) that it is unrealistic to expect someone to recreate them exactly without it. At least, at the moment.

But the new baseline should be products that do not need any apology—this should be the new norm for gluten free products, and yet, sadly, it isn’t always so. There are still dry, gritty, taste-free biscuits available, for example.

We should insist on good food – if you don’t really like it, don’t buy it. There is better out there… and the list of products shortlisted should show you some of the many interesting new things available (the list will be out soon is out now!).

Free From Foods Awards – The Winners 2014

Oo, exciting – the winners of the Free From Foods Awards were announced last night!

It’s a long, long, list, and you can read more about all the awards here. Here’s my selection of award winners that we’ve either tried ourselves or that I’m looking forward to trying in the future.

Focaccia per tutti - winner FFFood Awards 14

Overall Winner

Overall Winner of the FAIR trophy for Best FreeFrom Food 2014

Focaccia Per Tutti (Focaccia Mediterranea)

The judges said:

‘Stunning! Ticks all of the freefrom boxes and yet looks – and tastes – like an authentic and delicious focaccia. How did she do it!’ ‘Excellent aroma, good crust and lovely classic Mediterranean flavours – olives, garlic, tomatoes, rosemary.’ ‘Fantastic that it is free of all allergens except nuts.’ ‘Really filling a gap in the market – love it! Want more!’ ‘A worthy winner in terms of both innovation and quality.’

We say:

We’ve so got to try this!

Runners Up

  • Amy’s Kitchen Broccoli and Cheddar bake

    The judges said:

    ‘Visually appealing, lovely taste and texture. All elements work well together – a very, very good product.’ ‘Excellent. Good al dente pasta, lovely al dente green broccoli, well flavoured sauce and great crunchy top. What’s not to like?!’

    We say:

    We’ve tried this, and its a great freezer fallback for those days when there just isn’t time to cook.

  • Bessant & Drury Raspberry swirl frozen yogurt

    The judges said:

    ‘The best coconut product I have tasted – lovely mouthfeel and raspberry flavour comes through well.’ ‘Excellent freefrom qualities and good live cultures – very tasty.’ ‘Fab dairy free, fab texture, fab taste!!’

    We say:

    We haven’t tried this because we don’t need to be dairy free in our house, but maybe we should; I’ll look out for it.

  • Tesco Free From fresh seeded bread

    The judges said:

    ‘Excellent everyday loaf – good texture, lovely seeds and a better ingredients list than most!’ ‘Light, tasty and really hard to believe that it is gluten free.’ ‘Really good seeded loaf – perfect for sandwiches.’

    We say:

    It’s good to be able to pick up a decent gluten free loaf in the supermarket.

  • Waitrose Gluten free egg watercress and chicken salad roll

    The judges said:

    ‘Look wonderful – great lookalike for a normal filled roll.’ ‘Very good product – great to see a vending product of this nature – faultless innovation.’ ‘Fresh and well executed – what a treat – and in a mainstream outlet too!’

    We say:

    We haven’t tried this yet, but we’ll look out for it. It would be good to be able to pick up gluten free sandwiches easily.

The Innovation Award – Sponsored by Food Matters Live

Winners: Venice Bakery large seasoned gluten-free vegan pizza base

The judges said:

‘Fabulous pizza base – excellent freefrom properties – very innovative.’ ‘Great product for multi-sensitives.’ ‘Good crisp crust and great flavour because it is thin – if a little sweet.’

We say:

We tried this at the Allergy and Free From Show last summer, and liked it so much we bought some to bring home.

Commended:

  • Newburn Bakehouse Seeded wraps
  • Udi’s Cinnamon & raisin bagel

We say:

We regularly buy both these. Fabulous additions to the range of gluten free food available in the supermarket.

‘Food to go’ and food for vending machines – Sponsored by 24Vend

Winner: Waitrose Gluten free egg watercress and chicken salad roll

The judges said:

‘Delicious moist rolls (so many gf rolls are dry). Generous, nutritious and tasty filling – what a pity it isn’t dairy free as well. Excellent on-the-go food.’ ‘A delicious vegetarian sandwich (egg and cress) – really satisfies the need of people looking for gluten free and vegetarian lunch options. And they look great. Love all that cress.’ ‘Generous portion and a well balanced mix of salad, mayonnaise and chicken.’

Highly Commended:

  • Great Food Spinach & pinenut with houmous – snack pack
  • Hotch Potch Eggs Arancini

We say:

This all sounds fab; and anything that makes it easier for coeliac daughter to find food she can eat while out and about is good by me.

Foods designed for food service – Sponsored by Genon Laboratories

Winners:

  • The Indian Coeliac Gluten free authentic Panjabi pakoras
  • We Love Cake Gluten free cherry Bakewell tarts

We say:

Again, we tried – and bought – the pakoras last summer. We hope this category just keeps getting stronger; the easier it is to eat out as a coeliac, the better.

Do go and check out the full list of recommended products – and then try them! Let me know what you think…

Cakes and Ale: gluten free

You may remember I was invited to help judge the Free From Foods Awards again this year…The winners were announced at the awards ceremony last week, and I went down to London for the evening.

Entries were up by 40% since last year, and it’s not surprising.

Apparently there is a 15% growth year on year of the free from market, and it is expected to be worth 6bn dollars by 2017. That’s a lot of us eating—and drinking—gluten free…

gluten-free-beer

The two key points I took away from the evening this year were:

  1. The array of free from beers that are now available

    I’m not a big beer drinker, but I was surprised by the range now available. If you’re interested in gluten free beer, then you should definitely check out the beers people were enjoying on the night:

  2. The number of new entrants to the market

    There are always newcomers to the free from market, particularly in the cakes/biscuits area, but it is sometimes difficult for such companies to find their place, and grow from supplying farmers’ markets locally to supplying nationally.

    However, this year, almost every manufacturer I spoke to during the evening had been in business for a very short time. Months only, in some cases. And the very fact that they were there meant that we’d shortlisted them – and some of them were winners in their categories. An astonishing success in these early days.

    Congratulations to everyone shortlisted, big or small company, winners or not—and lots of luck to the newcomers in those first crucial years of business. It isn’t easy…

  3. gluten-free-winners

     

    Free From Pick

    Here’s my pick from this year’s event: either products I taste-tested and particularly enjoyed, or ones that sound really interesting. Sadly, I didn’t get to taste very much on the evening of the awards—I had to leave to catch the last train north.

    Obviously it’s an entirely subjective list!

    • Dell’Ugo Chickpea Fusilli. I’ll also be trying the Cornito Sea Waves pasta (and the Rizopia Fantasia sounds like fun for children)
    • Bessant & Drury Dairy Free Frozen Dessert. The lemon flavour was the overall winner, so that’s got to be worth a try.
    • The Indian Coeliac Paratha. I really liked this when we tried it on the judging day.
    • Hotch Potch Eggs Savoury Scotch Eggs We used to be able to get gluten free scotch eggs at our local farmers’ market… but not any more. These sound like a great replacement
    • Glamourpuds Hot Chocolate Fudge Pudding Pot and Christine’s Puddings Frangipane Tart. I know several people in my house who’d enjoy these!
    • Freedom Deli Panini. I tried the tuna melt panini at the awards evening (the only thing I did have time to try!) and thought it worked really well.
    • Afia’s Spicy Beef Samosa. This sounds interesting. Son recently made samosas at school, but obviously not gluten-free versions, so it would be nice for coeliac daughter to be able to try a samosa.
    • Dee’s Quinoa Pots with Thai Spiced Vegetables and little lentils. Again, we haven’t tried this, but it sounds good.
    • Tesco Free From Three Cheese Pasta Bake. I know my coeliac enjoys this one, though sadly our local Tesco has stopped stocking all their gluten free chilled readymeals.
    • Pig & Co Lucanian Roman Sausage. I don’t do meat myself, but everyone else in my house does, so I’m sure these would go down a treat.
    • Conscious Foods Finger Millet Dippers and The FreeFrom Bakehouse Jalapeño Pepper & Sweetcorn Muffins. These just sound intriguing!
    • Waitrose LOVE Life GF Millionaire Blondies. I was on the cake panel, and enjoyed these enough to have seconds. When you’ve eaten way too many cakes in an afternoon, something has to be good to merit a second go! I also liked: Cakes Divine Carrot Cupcakes (I love a carrot cake)

    More details of the shortlist and winners are available on the awards website. I hope you find something that you really enjoy from these lists!