Food Matters Live is an annual event that takes place at London Excel, this year I was lucky enough to be invited as a result of being a judge for the Free From Eating Out Awards in September. The event lasts for 3 days, however I only attended the one day, the day the results of the Awards were announced.
Once there I collected my pass, and began to wander around the various stalls at the event.
The first stall I came across that peaked my interest, was by a brand called “treat”, they produce bread roll and vegan flatbread mixes. These mixes appealed to me as although the bread roll mix contains egg, meaning I could not have it, both of them do not contain potato or maize starch. This is something I have a particular issue with as gluten free products often use these starches as a substitute. This is also something I ended up discussing and educating a lot of people on throughout the day.
Another brand that took interest in my issues with potato and maize starch is a brand called Angels & Cookies, this brand creates cookie dough free of all 14 allergens, but does however use maize starch. After speaking to the founder, Karen Capetta, she provided me with a business card and requested I email her so we can discuss making a cookie dough that would be suitable for me. This brand aims to allow those suffering with food allergies to be able to indulge without making sacrifices, and based on our discussion I think they’re doing a wonderful job.
At 2 o’clock I attended a seminar which was opened by Simon Wright who is chair of the Gluten Free Industry Association. He educated those of us in the seminar about the GFIA stating that brands such as Dr Schar, Warburtons and BFree are members. Following Mr Wright was Carly B, a gluten free blogger who analysed the various types of free from eaters and their priorities. Closing the seminar was a representative for Mr Kipling, this talk I found particularly interesting as although I know the usual Mr Kipling cakes are heavenly, I’ve never been drawn to the gluten free versions. Her talk was very interesting and highlighted the worth of the Free From market from a producers point of view, with it estimated to be worth £673m in the UK by 2020! During her talk the issue of who is consuming the goods was also discussed, with people who are doing it to benefit their lifestyle being in larger numbers than those who medically have to change their diet.
Earlier in the day the representative for Mr Kipling had actually provided me with a box of Mr Kipling gluten free brownies, to try once I had gotten home. I did this, and found them to be incredibly tasty, though slightly confusing. The brownies are packaged with two in one small tray, which is good for travelling and to carry around as a handy snack. However when I picked one up it felt hard on the outside, so I was dubious to bite into it, but once I did I discovered it to secretly be a delicious, crumbly and surprisingly not drying brownie that I will now be seeking out in the shops.
Before heading to the Free From Eating Out Awards presentation, I managed to visit the Freedom Confectionary stall. I discovered this brand at The Allergy & Free From show in Liverpool last year. Since then I have been obsessed with their marshmallows, but not always able to get them. I left the stall incredibly happy when I was given some free bags of mallows to make up for the fact they weren’t at the Free From show this year.
The awards show was wonderful, with many brands earning bronze, silver and gold awards for their free from successes. Not only was it great to see so many brands working so hard to be a welcoming free from business, but it also allowed me to discover potential restaurants/cafes I could visit in the future. The awards for the category I judged for were also announced, it was really nice to see and meet the creators behind the products I had judged, with those marvellous doughnuts mentioned in my previous post winning a gold award. To find the full list of winners click here. The overall winner was Mommi, which is a Japanese-Latin Raw Bar and Grill in London. I’d never heard of Mommi before but if ever I find myself in search of food nearby, I will definitely check them out.
Although the day was long, travelling to London from Manchester and returning the same day, it was an enjoyable one. I learnt a lot from this day, meeting lots of inspirational people and discovering many brands and company’s doing amazing work. This was my first Food Matters Live event, and hopefully not my last.