Friday, 20 April 2012

FreeFrom Food Awards 2012

I could tell you all about the winners of this year's FreeFrom Food Awards, but you've probably already read about it on the FreeFrom Food Awards Winners page.  I could tell you all about the awards presentation evening, but Alex Gazzola has done so with more eloquence than I could.  Instead, I want to tell you about some of my own personal highlights and discoveries from the judging process, and the awards evening.

Steve, from Foodamentalists

I was delighted to meet Steve of Foodamentalists, who makes some truly excellent products (hence the commended Black Pudding and Caramelised Red Onion Pork Pie and Brown Bread Mix, the highly commended Golden Batter Mix and the winning Gluten, Wheat and Dairy Free Frangipane Mince Pies) and is deeply passionate and committed to developing gluten, wheat and dairy free products of quality.  I was introduced to Catherine of Sweetcheeks, who was joint winner in two categories, cakes and sweet treats, whose ethos of natural ingredients without all those strange additives usually found in gluten free cakes was clearly something that was important to her.  I checked out her webpage when I got home and was instantly drawn to the beautiful cakes, donuts, macarons and whoopie pies that she sells on Marylebone High Street on Saturdays.  I will be heading there soon!  I (briefly) managed to chat to Liz, from The Cake Crusader, to discuss our wardrobe choices after our exchanges via Twitter, earlier in the day whilst trying to find something to wear!

Cake Crusader, Liz and Sweetcheeks' Catherine

As one of the judges who tackled the mammoth 'ready meals' category, I was delighted by the quality and variety of dishes available.  As much as we all might strive to cook our meals from fresh ingredients, sometimes we need a bit of convenience in our lives and it appears that we have quite a choice on offer.  So large was this category, that it was finally split into two separate awards, meat based meal centres and savoury pies, pizzas and ready meals.  The winners, The Co-operative's Truly Irresistable Minted Lamb Burgers and The GlutenFree Kitchen's Ovencrust Chicken and Bacon Pie are two great examples of the many great products we tested.

The pasta and pizza bases category was won by Farabella Acini de Pepe, imported by Drossa.  As I listened to the judges opinions on these pasta grains "Delicious in a salad, excellent as a couscous or bulgar alternative, lovely in soup with nice separate grains, a good bite and a great flavour…", I realised that I have a bag of this in my kitchen cupboard and I haven't tried it yet!  I will be digging it out of the depths soon, I promise.

The winners with Antony Worral Thompson who presented the awards

I met many fantastic people throughout my involvement with the FreeFrom Food Awards and I have enjoyed every moment, from the lively debate of the judging, to the nettle beer and networking of the awards presentations.  Who else is looking forward to what 2013 has to offer?


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