Free-From Food Awards 2014
Michelle Berriedale-Johnson – director of the FreeFrom Food Awards and chair of judges
Hello, good evening everyone and welcome to the 7th annual Freefrom Food awards presentation. As always – it is tremendous to see you all!
Once again this year we had a bumper entry to the awards – well over 350 entries from nearly 150 companies – nearly 50% of whom were new to us. So a very warm welcome to all of our newcomers – only equalled by the warmth of our welcome to all those old friends I see out there!
Just before I start – can I draw your attention to the awards Twitter hashtag? Alex is running a live Twitter feed throughout the evening – so if any of you are up for an bit of discreet retweeting, that would be wonderful – and please use the awards hashtag #FFFA14.
First, as always, our ‘thank you’s.
Running awards is a complex and costly business and would not be even remotely possible without the financial support of our sponsors and the amazing efforts of our own staff and all of those involved with the awards.
So thank you first to all of our sponsors – you will have seen them all up on the screens around the room. This year, be presenting the certificates for the categories they have supported – so you will actually get to see them all in person!!
Then thank you once again to Antony, our patron from our very first awards, which took place in the upstairs of his Notting Grill restaurant, way back in 2008. We really appreciate Antony’s support over the years and are delighted that he has stayed with us as we have grown.
Thank you also to our huge roster of judges. Our judging panels are made up of chefs, manufacturers, food and cookery writers, dietitians and nutritionists – not to mention coeliacs, allergy sufferers and ‘lay’ judges who have no connection with freefrom but are there to benchmark the entries again ‘normal’ foods. Bless them, judges battle through snow and fog, strikes and go-slows to get to us and contribute enormously to interesting and often very heated discussions about the merits and de-merits of entries!
Thank you to our splendid beer suppliers for our gluten free beer bar – an essential element in any FFFood Awards party! Do go and try the beers – you will find them all listed on bar at the end of the room.
Thank you to the Royal College of Physicians who, for the second year, are hosting this evening. The college really is a delight to work with – nothing is too much trouble. This year, Chef Dean has taken the preparations of the canapés entirely on himself, even making us up special celery-free stock to accommodate one guest’s allergies - and turning not a hair when presented with 25 winning products to prepare for our winners’ tasting buffet.
Finally, thank you to our in house staff without whom nothing would happen at all. As you all know, Cressida (seen here with Katherine during preparations for one of the judging sessions) is the powerhouse behind the Freefrom Food Awards and the fact that they run seamlessly each year is down to her amazing organisational powers and attention to detail.
Not only is she responsible for all of the entries and the eight million emails that you all receive but, with Katherine, she runs the judging sessions. So thank you, Cressida, thank you Katherine – and thank you also to Sue Cane, our beer expert and now a full member of the awards team, and to Ruth Holroyd who will be writing up this evening for us. So, if you want a mention,
It is probably true to say that freefrom is now the most successful sector of the food industry – but, for those of us who have been involved from the start, it is still somewhat gobsmacking that we have come so far, so fast.
The fact that there are nearly 300 of us here in one of the most prestigious venues in central London celebrating the awards is fantastic but our growth is mirrored in so many other areas.
The Allergy Show for example. Back when we started the awards it was a rather tacky little specialist show buried in the depths of the ghastly Olympia 2.
FreeFrom Food Europe – under the guidance of Ronald Holman – is heading for the same sort of success. A European trade show launched last summer in Freiburg by this year it has already moved on to Brussels and is offering a special pavilion for companies shortlisted in the Freefrom Food Awards.
Our good friend Jeffrey Hyman at the Food and Drink Innovation Network. Jeffrey was the very first conference organizer to run a freefrom seminar way back in 2006. Now he runs two bulging freefrom seminars every year!
And freefrom is reaching out intot he big bad world.
The exciting new Food Matters Live Event in November at Excel – not a freefrom event at all, this one. But ‘freefrom’ is taking its place along with ‘Future food business: strategies for growth’, ‘Nutrition for health and wellbeing’, ‘Salt, sugar and fat, strategies to reduce consumption’ and ‘Marketing and packaging’ as one of the main conference and seminar streams running throughout the three day event.
And even further afield…. In June I have been invited to speak at a Sustainable Food Summit in Amsterdam – so eventhey are interested in ‘freefrom’!
For years my ambition has been to see freefrom become part of the food ‘mainstream’ - and really now, I think it is.
However, back to our more immediate concerns. Before we get on to the business of the night, we want to tell you about our future plans. First I am going to let Cressida tell you about out ideas for the FreeFrom Food Awards for next year:Cressida
Good evening everyone – and lovely to see you all!
We had a great collection of products entered for the awards this year but, as always, you were very unpredictable with what you entered – so while some of the smaller categories only attracted maybe a dozen entries, we had over 50 for some of the larger ones!
These included two new categories – Breakfast Foods and After Dinner foods. Breakfast included cereals, all those milks & yogurts that you would put on your cereals, and breakfast baked goods; After Dinner included puddings and desserts – LOTS of them! Lucky pudding judges!! – plus cheese, cheese biscuits and chocolates. So we shall certainly be repeating these two next year.
The other two new categories this year – ‘Food to go and Vending’ – the buzz food category of the moment – and Pizza and Pasta – were also very popular with large – and good quality – entries for both.
Another great success was the children’s food category run for us again by Christine Bailey. The children – here they are mixing up a cake mix entry – ranged from 6 to 15 years old and they were brilliant and took their work extremely seriously. We will certainly be repeating that next year.
Rather less successful was our Low Sulphite wine category – but we think we were being somewhat over ambitious. Although we had a good deal of interest we did not get enough entries to make a viable category – but we are intending to try again next year as we do believe that low sulphite wines could, in time, become as significant a freefrom category as gluten-free beer.
We are also looking at the rapidly growing sports market and the viability of a freefrom sports drinks and supplements category.
Definitely on the horizon, following on from our successful Breakfast and After Dinner initiatives, is a category that will span all aspects of freefrom – and which we think could really be fun – a Freefrom Ploughmans’ Lunch category! Watch this space!!
OK – so just two more bits of news before we start dishing out the gongs!!
First – our charity of the year.
For those of you who do not know them they are a small charity whose volunteers cook surplus food that they have collected in kitchens that are not currently being used for anything else – so come free of charge. The idea is to create nutritious meals free meals for anyone who really needs them, no matter what their age, background or need. These can include the homeless, refugees, older people, low-income families, people affected by mental ill health, young people looking for work, older people looking for work – or any group that they feel would benefit from a nutritious meal served in a warm and friendly atmosphere.
Since they started cooking in May 2009 their 1200 volunteers have served over 80,000 meals using 85,000 kg of reclaimed surplus food in their 17 ‘hubs’ around the country! And they are expanding fast so every pound that we can give them will be put to good use!
If you want to know more, do take a look at their website – foodcycle.org.uk - they are now linked from all of the Foodsmatter and FreeFrom Matters sites so you can easily find them by logging in to us.
Those of you who were here last year may remember that I said that, in view of the growth of freefrom generally and the new regulations coming into force in December this year requiring all food service outlets to provide accurate information about any of the major allergens in their food, we were thinking
Well, since then it has somewhat taken on a life of its own…..
We took the plunge last autumn at the FDIN FreeFrom in Food Service seminar when Antony took our new award under his wing and very kindly came and launched it as the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards.
Since then we have acquired some wonderful partners – from food service itself, Brakes and 3663, the two foods service distribution giants; Horizons, the Mintel of the food service world, and consultants Jane Milton and Hazel Gowland; from the charity sector our good friends at the Anaphylaxis Campaign and Coeliac UK; the Sustainable Restaurant Assocation and the Food and Drink Innovation Network.
And then, early in the new year, this stellar line up was joined by our Innovation Awards sponsor FoodMatters Live who generously offered to host the presentation at their event in November. Yes!!! And, on the back of that, we started to get some nice coverage in the catering press.
So, now we had a new name, a patron in Antony, a website, lots of tremendous partners, and a host and a date for the presentation party. So, really all we needed was some money – sadly, an essential requisite! A month ago, knowing that a number of freefrom manufacturers would be interested in breaking into food service, we launched our ‘tag cloud sponsorship’ concept – three levels of sponsorship which give you a more or less prominent position in our sponsorship cloud. We have already had some very positive interest from some of you. And then, only last week…… We secured – a headline sponsor!........
I am very excited and delighted to be able to announce that, thanks to the interest and support of Wan Mak, their Head of Nutrition and Dietetics, the headline sponsors for the very first FreeFrom Eating Out Awards will be – Sodexo!
Anyone who would like to talk to us about the award – as a sponsor or for any other reason – please do talk to me either tonight or, probably better – next week.
Please now go to the Winners' pages for the winners, the highly commended and the commended products in each category, along with the judges' comments but return to this page for the presentation of the winner of the FAIR Trophy for the Best FreeFrom Food 2014.
So now we really are nearly there – the 2014 Marble Mo Moment!!! But……… we have just one more thing to do.
At our final judging session this year, when we decide between the winners of all the various categories as to who should take charge of Marble Mo for the next year, there was a more than usually heated discussion between the judges, a group of whom were so impressed by Green’s sorghum-based beer that they wanted Green’s to get Marble Mo. They were outnumbered but very vocal – and finally only gave way because we suggested making a special award this year not only to recognise Green’s achievement in making this really excellent IPA beer from sorghumx – but their contribution to the development of the gluten-free beer market over the last five years.
So I am going to ask Antony, who I know takes kindly to a nice drop of beer, to present our special tankard to David Ware of Green’s ‘for services to the gluten-free beer industry’!
Right – now this really is it…….. Who is to be this year’s winner of the FAIR trophy for the Best Gluten-free Food 2014?.......
Well, beer discussion aside, there were five contenders for the ultimate accolade… In alphabetical order they were:
Amy’s Kitchen Broccoli and Cheddar Bake
Bessant and Drury Raspberry swirl frozen coconut yogurt
Focaccia per tutti Focaccia Meditarranea
Tesco Freefrom fresh seeded bread
Waitrose gluten-free egg and chicken salad rolls
So, two very down to earth, every day staple products – the Tesco seeded bread and the Waitrose filled rolls – both really excellent products and hugely useful in any freefrom diet.
The Amy’s Kitchen broccoli bake – a great standby to have in the freezer – absolutely good enough to serve to anyone or just to enjoy on your own.
And then two more exotic, luxury products – the Bessant and Drury frozen yogurt and the focaccia – both with wonderful freefrom credentials and both most certainly making the point that far from feeling deprived on a freefrom diet, these days you can eat as well, if not better, than anyone else!
Well, it really was a hard decision as all five products could easily have won. But, after much head scratching, the judges finally awarded Marble Mo to the product that, apart from its great free from credentials, its great looks, and its wonderful flavours and aromas – had successfully broken new ground in terms of manufacturing technique and achievement.
2014 Best FreeFrom Food
Focaccia per Tutti
If you have any queries or would like to talk to us about the project - please email
Michelle or call on 020 7722 2866