ANTONY WORRALL THOMPSON presented Hertfordshire pub, The Alford Arms, with the Silver Salver for the most allergen-aware eatery, serving the best ‘free from’ food, in the UK - at the inaugural FreeFrom Eating Out Awards at the Food Matters Live event yesterday. The awards were sponsored by Sodexo.
The Alford Arms, one of a small chain of Home Counties pub restaurants, has been judged to serve the best ‘free from’ food (gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soya-free) in the inaugural FreeFrom Eating Out Awards, launched to raise awareness of the new allergen declaration regulations coming into force this December.
“I am hearing heavenly choirs”, enthused the final round judge who ate, incognito, at the Alford Arms. “As someone with multiple serious allergies, I have never been so well fed and cared for.”
They prepared me a special menu with multiple choices of excellent fresh, imaginative and delicious food, and checked it with me three times, yet on the night I was treated like any other guest - absolutely no embarrassing fuss.
Runners up for the accolade were:
1. The Pizza Express pizza chain who now offer a full, Coeliac UK-accredited, gluten free menu with dairy and soya-free options though out their 400 nationwide restaurants.
“Pizza Express is the one countrywide chain in which I know that, even with all of my allergies (nut, dairy, celery, soya and wheat) I can eat safely and enjoyably. And their gluten-free vegan pizza is a real treat.”
2. HC3S (Hampshire County Council Catering Service) who serve wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and nut-free meals to all of the 46,000 primary school children within their county so that all of their children, whether on restricted diets or not, can enjoy the same food.
3. Tea42 in Manchester for creating a cool yet vibrant and trendy eatery which is also entirely gluten-free and where the gluten and dairy-free food (especially the cakes) are to die for.
For the full list of winners in the six categories (B&Bs, cafés, food manufactured for food service, pub restaurants, restaurants and schools/universities) please see below.
Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, awards director, said: “The standard of the entries was exceptionally high while the enthusiasm and commitment of the chefs and owners was really heart warming. We are very excited about the possibilities offered to the food service industry by the ‘free from’ movement and expect ‘free from’ in food service to grow at an even faster rate than the 15% year on year that it has achieved in the retail market.”
Wan Mak, head of nutrition and dietetics at awards sponsors Sodexo, said: “We are delighted by the response to the launch of these awards. It is so important that food service is able to implement the new allergen regulations which can help to inform the growing number of people who have to live on restricted diets. We are sure that these awards will help to raise awareness of the regulations and help to encourage compliance."