Eating out with food allergiesBanana pancakes


About Jackie Mitchell

Jackie Mitchell is a journalist and public relations consultant with over fifteen years' experience. She works with small businesses and charities providing PR services.

With a background as a features writer in the media, Jackie has worked on national newspapers, websites, consumer magazines, trade publications and radio stations all over the UK. For some years, she worked abroad - in Australia, Hong Kong and New York. After returning to London, she worked as an account director at several major London agencies.

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December 23rd, 2016

Free From Eating Out Awards at Food Matters Live

The overall winner of the third FreeFrom Eating Out Awards was the Labyrinth Holistic Café , a community cafe in Stockton on Tees. This café operates a 100% gluten free kitchen, is accredited by Coeliac UK and offers lacto free, dairy free, egg free, vegetarian and vegan dishes. Ray and I are looking forward to visiting there next year.

Now in their third year, the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards aims to build awareness and reward ‘free from’ excellence in foodservice, as well as recognising the best allergy and gluten free friendly restaurants, cafes and other foodservice outlets.

Michelle Berriedale-Johnson and her team must be commended for starting up these vital Awards. It was so rewarding to attend the Awards ceremony at Food Matters Live  to see how the sector is developing. This year’s successful entrants included fish and chip shops, gastro pubs, 960 branches of JD Wetherspoons, fine dining restaurants and school caterers. As Michelle says “The foodservice industry has definitely got its head round the concept of catering allergen free; we look forward to a very exciting year next year.”

The Awards were presented by Dominic Teague, executive chef of Indigo restaurant at London’s One Aldwych Hotel , who also received his own award – the new FreeFrom Eating Out Awards Pathfinder Award. When Indigo reopened after its kitchen refurbishment, it decided to offer an entirely gluten free and dairy free menu (as they received so many requests for gluten free and dairy free), but they didn’t tell anyone. All they received were compliments about their new menu, so after three months they revealed that the menu was gluten free and dairy free – and their bookings increased by 30%. I know this restaurant well as I wrote an article about the kitchen refurbishment. Ray and I dined with friends there recently, so I will be posting a blog about it soon. It’s well recommended. (Pictured above is Michelle chatting to Dominic)

For a complete list of runners-up, Gold, Silver and Bronze winners in all the categories please visit

I was pleased that one of my local ‘free from’ restaurants The Willow  in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, was not only one of the runners-up, but also one of the Gold winners in the restaurant category. The menu has symbols for every dish, so it’s easy to see at a glance what you can or can’t eat. The smoky kale crisps as a starter are a must. There’s a good selection of main courses, both dairy free and gluten free such as Fusion Salmon ‘n Salsa. The choice of desserts is impressive – Willow carrot and courgette cake or rosemary infused pear sorbet, both of which are gluten free and dairy free. It also has 13 gluten free beers on draught.

What’s New in ‘Free From’ at Food Matters Live

One of the best discoveries at the exhibition was Oomi gluten free  ready-to-eat noodles which are high in protein and have 75% less carbohydrates than regular egg noodles. I sampled some on the stand – delicious! You can throw them in the wok or warm in the microwave or add them, cold, to salads. Available from Ocado. Attractive yellow packaging.

I enjoyed tasting Manilife  Argentinian peanut butter, both gluten and dairy free, with no sugar or palm oil, available online.

Another treat was sampling the new dairy free, sugar free and gluten free ice cream lolly from Miiro in three flavours – salted caramel, vanilla and peanut butter and chocolate hazelnut. This will be in the shops in February 2017 – will keep you posted.

Wild Trail was showcasing its range of tasty raw fruit and nut bars, which are gluten and dairy free, refined sugar free and suitable for vegans. They contain just five ingredients – gluten free oats, peanuts, raisins, apple juice concentrate, pumpkin seeds, red skinned apple or cacao topping. Available online and from Tesco 

Gusto Nero  launched its Organic Black Jasmine Rice Pasta from Thailand, which is gluten free and vegan. in a variety of formats such as fusilli, macaroni, spaghetti. Available online.

“Better Without” is a new curry and pasta sauce from Fodify Foods , which is dairy free and gluten free, has no onion or garlic and uses low FODMAP ingredients. See the web site for more information and online sales.



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