At the end of May, Free From Events hosted the UK’s first-ever gluten, dairy and refined-sugar free festival in East London’s Old Spitalfield’s Market. The event, created by Margarita Kalna, was choc-a-bloc with 56 exhibitors and over 2,800 hungry customers. Margarita has been building up her free from event planning operation since 2014, after witnessing a good friend struggle to eat out and source allergy-friendly food products. I had the pleasure of attending last month and have selected my top picks from the event, all of whom are businesses well-worth keeping an eye on.
Eat Safe App
Still struggling when it comes to picking an allergy-friendly place to go for a meal? Matt Bland – the founder and creator of Eat Safe – knows how you feel and wants to help. Eat Safe is a new and upcoming initiative to make picking a restaurant easier for allergy sufferers. The app allows users to pick their current location and dietary requirement before offering suggestions for nearby eateries. What’s interesting about this app is that as well as revealing your nearest 100% allergy-friendly restaurants, places perhaps you never knew served gluten or dairy free dishes for example, are also factored in. Each location is then given a ranking according to the number of allergy-friendly options available on their menu.
I had the opportunity to play around with the app and cannot wait to use it regularly. If you’re interested in giving it a go during the limited launch period in mid-June, head over to the Eat Safe website to sign up or get in touch with the team via firstname.lastname@example.org.
After six years of not being able to eat a samosa, coming across the Green Sisters was an emotional moment. This delightful family business creates gluten free, vegetarian and egg free Indian food, as part of a concept they call “considered dining” – in other words, eating which is considerate of a variety of dietary needs whether a diet is being followed through choice or necessity.
Tucking into this spicy samosa with a side of vegetable pakora and fragrant chickpeas was one of the day’s top highlights and something I look forward to doing again in the near future. Follow these wonderful ladies on social media for news of their next pop-up.
White Rabbit Pizza Co.
You may well have already tried the gold-dust pizza created by White Rabbit Pizza Co. in Oxford, given they are stocked by well-known retailers including Planet Organic and Abel & Cole. For me however, this was a first-time experience and I was certainly not disappointed. All pizzas from this group are gluten free and organic, and there is even a vegan pie on offer too.
The company originally started off serving much-requested gluten free pizzas in their pubs in Oxford. Following such a great success, the team decided to start distributing across the country and have never looked back. Keep your eyes peeled for new stockists of these pizzas, including Whole Foods and As Nature Intended. These guys are sure to go far.
Even before I discovered gluten was a no-go, the idea of baking my own bread never inspired me. After meeting the husband and wife team behind MannaVida however, I am stoked to start creating my own hassle-free gluten free foccacia at home.
Dan Jennings and Davina Steel produce a selection of bake-at-home bread mixes and flours which are entirely free from additives and gluten. The team started up their business in 2015 when treatment for cancer left Davina severely intolerant to gluten. MannaVida has since won three World Bread Awards and continues to develop new recipes and improve old favourites. It is no wonder the team ran out of bread samples on the day – the texture of every kind I tried was spot on and full of flavour. Get yours online from Ocado.
Cake and Cucumber
Feeling incredibly stuffed after sampling all of the amazing food detailed above and more, I stumbled across Cake and Cucumber’s stand and I am so glad I did. The company is headed up by East London resident and baking-enthusiast Phoebe. An advocate of free-from, wholefoods cooking, Phoebe ticks all gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free boxes when it comes to preparing food without compensating on flavour.
Phoebe began her venture in 2015 and appears at a number of events across London with Cake and Cucumber. She also hosts pop-ups and workshops. Keep your eyes on the company website for more details on where to source these delicious products baked with love.
Free From Festival will be in Bristol on Saturday 28 October from 10:30am onwards
Photo Credits: Ilmi Perez-Stubbs