I had the pleasure of visiting the home of Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, to take part in judging the FreeFrom Eating Out awards Category ‘Food manufactured for food service’ After a long drive through London I finally made it to the venue just a short distance from Camden Lock.
We were greeted with a frothy coffee and straight into sampling the first product an oat milk – specially developed for steaming, a welcome refreshment after the long drive.
Michelle spent some time explaining the criteria for our judging the delights we would taste, and we went round the room introducing ourselves to the other judges, many in the room had met before so good to catch up and have a chat. Although, Michelle was keen to round us and get started with the tasting as we had a lot to get through on a tight time scale.
The judges in attendance:
- Dominic Teague – One Aldwych
- Halima Ferreira – Food Architect/Private Chef/Consultant – Tailored Taste
- Julian Edwards – Allergy Accrediation
- Sarah Ormond Smith – Owner Oscar & Bentleys
- Bob Trice – Anaphylaxis Campaign
- Steve Walpole, – Chef Consultant and Head of Food at Ugo Foods Group
- Sophie – A student who suffers multiple allergies
- Susan Cane – Free From Advocat and support of Foodsmatter.com
- Caroline Benjamin – Director Food Allergy Aware
The morning was taken up with trying 21 savoury options ranging from, Oat Milk, fish in batter, snack biscuits, pizza bases, & Party packs and whole lot more besides!
It was all agreed that it was great that manufactures were taking into account the dietary restrictions of the freefrom community, many had got it just right and some need a bit more development to fine tune their products. There were some items that I could not try as they contained milk in one form or another – I particularly enjoyed the pizza base it was great to see a thick crust option, with NO soggy bottom, there was a selection of buffet foods but in particular a very nice Samosa and Pakora which definitely tickled my taste buds.
There was also a delightfully spicy meat glaze which would work on most meats and fish – as gluten and dairy free diner something I more often than not miss out on are sticky chicken wings or ribs. This coating will make a tasty starter dish stand out. There were a couple of quiches which unfortunately I was unable to try but they had innovative flavours and combinations and presented well on the plate.
There were a couple of savoury roulades which again I could not try but had a very unusual mix of flavours and there was also a haddock fish cake which was full of taste and I did enjoy the mix of flavours, but it was felt a little more fish content would have been good!
After ploughing through the mornings entrants we broke for a lunch break (Not food I hasten to add, although it was available many of us were quite full) to review the entrants and sort out the shortlisted winners.
Next was the afternoon with another 21 entrants ranging from porridge, cheesecakes, luxury desserts with amazing flavours, although unfortunately many of which I could not try as although gluten free sadly not many where dairy free. There was an amazing Chocolate, coconut and Praline Torte dessert, individual pots of desserts and chocolate bars which were wonderful (Although a ‘may contains’ for dairy which would be restricting for those with an allergy) It is great to see more and more dairy free and egg free desserts not only catering for allergies and intolerance’s but the fast growing vegan market.
It was a long but enjoyable day and once we had reached our 42nd item we were coming to a close, the judges again spent some time reviewing all the products submitted and categorising gold, silver and bronze. And then it was time for me to fight my way through the traffic to get to the M3 before Rush hour.
Many thanks to Cressida and the chefs in the kitchen who produced the steady stream of goodies to sample, it cannot be easy to put all the different items together, and keeping them in order.
If you want to find out the winners come along to Food Matters Live on Tuesday 21 November when the winners of all categories will be unveiled. Hope to see you there…….