The blogger in me wanted to try every morsel of tasters and attend every talk and cookery demo. The co-founder wanted to ensure that all brands who had approached up for support over the three days were settled in, using the correct hashtags and making the most of their experience as exhibitors. The mum in me wanted to buy every single gluten free food on sale and take them home to Bethany to try!
I forgot to do the last point! Not that Bethany even battered an eyelid (she was just happy to have me home), but I did not come home with three days worth of goodies and purchases. The event in London is so HUGE I cannot begin to imagine how anyone could do it in one day but I appreciate that some have no option and with that in mind I’m going to end this post with some top tips (basically, don’t do what I do).
I was thrilled to have so many blogger buddies delivering talks this year, Lauren from Dilan and Me presented on breast feeding with CMPA, Emma Amoscato and Nina Modak of Free From Farmhouse and Eat Allergy Safe presented on Travelling with Allergies and Becky Excell and Mark of Gluten Free Cuppa Tea presented on IBS with Mark adding a refreshing male perspective on the subject.
Then you had the cookery demo’s by Nathalie Newman of Intolerant Gourmand and Sarah Howell aka Gluten Free Blogger. Add all that up and you’re looking at around 4 hours of talks across three days alone!
Lets deal with the elephant in the room shall we?
Okay, the Allergy Free From Show goody bags were not great this year in comparison to previous years and I’m happy to get some feedback from the show on why they think this was (if I get a reply I’ll add it here). The queuing system makes the best of a packed venue with it’s twists and turns and security keeping an eye on things but there were many disgruntled visitors once they saw the contents of the bag and wondered why they’d bother to queue for so long. My personal opinion is that the show is not about the goody bag, its about meeting the brands face-to-face, giving them feedback and find new products and brands that don’t make it to the big high street stores. Yes I did get a bag on the Friday and Saturday, and both times was quite late and the crowds had died down so to be fair I didn’t expect much left and was grateful for what I got.
Lanyards at Dawn, I heard through the grape vine that twitter was rife with unimpressed tweeps due to the new lanyard system. I totally get that people are more aware of data protection since the media coverage and inbox flux of GDPR emails but the idea behind the lanyards was simple; You like the product on the stand, you want to find out more about where you can buy it, how much it costs and get special offers. However, you have a squillion stands to get round and 3hrs of talks and not enough time to do it all. No worries, the exhibitor can swipe your barcode and the email address you entered when you went online to ‘purchase’ your free tickets can be collected and all the info you need will be emailed to you soon! Does that help to clarify it? Feel free to comment below if you wish to know more and I’ll endeavour to find out for you.
Back to the brands and amazing free from products…
I loved meeting up with the people behind the business this year, as I had three days I felt as if I had more time to speak to them and find out their back stories. I adored The Tiger Nut Company stand and their tiger nuts and delicious milk (I’ve actually got a milk making kit that I bought at the show). I just need to stop nibbling on them as snacks! Interesting fact: did you know that tiger nuts are actually little tubers from a plant that looks like a grass!
I got lots of cuddles and love from the wonderful Helen at the Weddell & Turner stand, their ginger biscuits were to die for, all the qualities a ginger biscuit should have intense flavour, a lovely crumb and chewy bits; perfection! They deliver most of their bakes but if you’re lucky enough to be in the Norfolk area they stock local tea rooms, café’s and restaurants with their gluten free and some vegan goodies.
I kept going back to the SHeu Pepper Sauce stand not just for a pick-me-up free sample but for the giggles, the ladies on the stand were gorgeous and so full of life. I’ve actually come home with a mild and medium pepper sauce (these are not for the feint hearted). These are going to be my go-to ingredients from now on in lots of family meals to give them a bit of va-va-voom!
I think Chirrup won the award for most intriguing food product in my opinion. Having never tried cricket flour before I was keen to give their cookies a go, there are currently two flavours; espresso and match and mint. The espresso were my favourite and I’m pleased to say crickets taste lovely!
My favourite non-food stand hands down was Tiny Land. Alison has developed some amazing allergy friendly children’s sensory play objects. There’ rainbow rice, colourful chickpeas, free from playdough and much more. The stand was a hive of activity and Alison had decorated it beautifully. I was particularly interested in the sensory aspect of the products as my son has ASD and has used sensory objects in his school before.
I could go on and on and on, but lucky for you I recorded bits of the three days and clumped them all together into a 8 minute 45 second vlog….
This years Allergy Free From Show; condensed into under 9 minutes!