A PERSONAL TRAINER who set up his own allergy-friendly ice cream company has landed a top gong at the Free From Food Awards.
Fitness expert and nutritionist Steve Bessant established Bessant & Drury Fine Ice Cream with pal Ian Drury in Essex just last year.
The only Brit-based ice cream to be made from coconut milk, it is dairy free, egg free, gluten free, soya free and totally vegan.
At the annual ceremony at the Museum of London in Docklands tonight, the brand’s lemon ice was named most innovative product. The judges described it as “lovely… you’d never know it was dairy free”, praising its “good clean ingredients list” and “nice zingy fresh taste”.
The pair developed the recipe two years ago after experimenting in Bessant’s kitchen with a borrowed ice cream maker. The idea occurred to the sports buff, from Leigh in Essex, because he regularly advises clients with food allergies and intolerances.
He says: “A lot of people are sensitive to dairy and eating dairy can inflame other complaints people have and cause issues for people with digestive problems. I have always been a big fan of coconut and a huge food lover, so I thought I would try to exploit a gap in the market.
“Our vision is to become a preferred choice for ice-cream lovers regardless of its dairy-free status.”
The ice creams are made with coconut milk and sweetened with apple juice, and come in chocolate, lemon, strawberry and vanilla flavours. The brand is already stocked in more than 130 outlets UK-wide, including Whole Foods in London and Glasgow, Holland & Barrett, Kew Gardens, Rainforest Café, Planet Organic and Brighton’s Sunny Foods. While they contain no nuts the ice creams are, however, produced in a factory where nut ingredients are used.
Other homegrown winners include Walton-on-Thames firm Anila’s Sauces, scooping the best ingredients prize for its Goan Green Sauce, which is gluten, nut and dairy free, vegan, and boasts no added sugar. The Indian food brand was set up by Anila Vaghela and husband Dan after she was made redundant in 1997 from her job as a PA.
She began by making jars of curry sauce and selling them on local stalls, but her products are now stocked in John Lewis, Budgens and farmers markets across the south east.
Elsewhere, a north London eco-vegetarian health food business set up by a festival chill-out group has landed the best raw food prize.
InSpiral’s Cheesie Purple Corn Kale Chips were described as delicious and “salt-ily tasty without salt”. They are made by the team behind Camden’s InSpiral Lounge, which serves up fresh foods, cocktails and hosts live events.
Overall winner for 2012 is a hole free, dairy free Swiss cheese: Vegusto Mild Aromatic, dubbed a “delight”.
Chair of the judges Michelle Berriedale-Johnson said: “For years dairy free and vegan manufacturers have struggled to make a really tasty ‘cheese’ substitute but they have never been able to crack it. Which makes Vegusto’s achievement so exciting.”
For a full list of winners click here.