- From spirit-makers to vegan and mission-driven champions - these start-ups wowed the judges at this year's event
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BULLION CHOCOLATE: SUPREME CHAMPION AND WINNER OF THE YOUNG PRODUCER CATEGORY
Run by 25-year-old Max Scotford, Bullion Chocolate makes its mission to show the UK a different side of chocolate. With a range of three chocolate bars, each from its own origin, the company showcases the value of the single origin chocolate bean, and the potential for varied flavour profiles. Its No 1 bar sources its beans from Haiti and operates with notes of caramel, fig, and raison. The No 2 bar brings in rare heirloom cacao from Bolivia to create a chocolate with notes of brownie and honey. Its No 3 bar sources beans from Guatemala to produce a chocolate that is fruity, with hints of peach and jam that make it the perfect pair for a cheese and wine board. Hand-made and hand-roasted, Bullion Chocolate chocolate bars not only taste unique, but look great on shelves, with crisp gold packaging. According to Scotford, the company originated from a passion for chocolate that grew into a desire to bring chocolate and cocoa beans back into the world of luxury. In its category, Bullion Chocolate not only is run by a young producer but is itself a young company of only two years working on a concept that is new to the UK. It was the entrepreneurial spirit of the company combined with the high quality of the chocolate that ended up winning the overall Supreme Champion prize for Scotford.
HUNTER & GATHER: NEWCOMER CATEGORY WINNER
Only a year old, Hunter & Gather has made a splash in the condiment world with its simple premise of “challenging conventional wisdom.” Founder Amy Moring was told it would be impossible to make a sugar-free and mustard-free mayonnaise. Putting together Amy’s desire for coealiac-friendly options and business partner Jeff’s passion for experimenting with new ideas, the pair developed Hunter & Gather’s Classic Mayo with only four ingredients: egg yolks, apple cider vinegar, avocado oil, and Himalayan salt. Unwilling to compromise on quality, Hunter & Gather uses 100% natural ingredients and sources free-range eggs from British farmers, focusing on creating a product that is not only delicious but with high integrity.
NEMI TEAS: MISSION-DRIVEN CATEGORY WINNER
Driven by the desire to address social issues surrounding refugees, founder Pranav Chopra turned to tea for the solution. Based in London, this impact-driven company offers a range of whole leaf tea blends, available both loose leaf and in eco-friendly biodegradable tea pyramids, as well as a Chai Syrup that can be used as the basis for a range of drinks from iced teas to chai cocktails. Interested in creating a positive chain, Nemi Teas originally employed refugees in their tea stalls. Having grown since then, it has been able to hire refugees at every level of the supply chain, providing them opportunities to boost English language and UK job market skills.
NOVELTEA: CROWDFUNDED CATEGORY WINNER
After moving to the UK for university, founders Lukas Passia and Vincent Efferoth fell in love with UK tea culture. Noticing the increasing tendency for alcohols like Prosecco and Champagne to be incorporated into afternoon tea, they asked themselves why these two much loved products, tea and alcohol, had yet to be combined. NovelTea teas pair tea blends, like Earl Grey and Moroccan green mint, with complementary alcohols to create a product that highlights the top notes of the tea and creates an entirely new place for itself in the market. Interested in exploring tea cultures across the world, NovelTea calls each of its products “the story of”, providing consumers with a product that is both innovative and high quality.
KINDA CO: INNOVATOR CATEGORY WINNER
After becoming a vegan herself, Ellie Phoebe Brown found herself frustrated by how few vegan cheese options there were available to her. Starting as an enterprise run out of her flat in Islington, Kinda Co was her solution. Kinda Co produces quality dairy-free cheeses, with the aim of replacing every cheese option on supermarket shelves. These artisan cheeses are produced with a unique process of fermenting the nut milk bases, with the aim of creating a vegan alternative so delicious it appeals to vegans and non-vegans alike. With products like nacho cheese, faux lox and dill cream cheese, and almond feta, Kinda Co provides a high quality product for the ever-growing vegan market.
THE RUSSIAN FOOD COMPANY: WORLD FLAVOURS CATEGORY WINNER
Basing themselves on a recipe that traces back 150 years, founders Steve Jones and Leeza Murina saw a gap in the UK market and sought to fill it. The Russian Food Company offers Britons one of Russia’s most popular foods: the piroshki. Described as a cross between a gourmet sandwich and an artisan pie, the product has flown off the shelves, with foodies fascinated by a new offering and non-foodies tentatively following suit. As a recipe taken from Soviet Union times, it has a basis in many countries apart from Russia- Georgia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine- bringing together the flavours of many different origins into a single tasty pastry.
HIVE URBAN FARMS: FARM-TO-FORK CATEGORY WINNER
Finding city-dwellers disconnected to their food sources with the prominence of industrialised farming and the distance between farm and city, Hive Urban Farms sought to reconnect urban populations to food production. With a focus on provenance, the company set up purpose-built indoor farms in Manchester, meaning their produce never travels more than five miles between farm and kitchen. Offering a variety of mushrooms, gourmet pink, grey and yellow oyster mushrooms as well as shiitake, each crop is delivered within one hour of harvest to ensure it is as fresh and tasty as possible. Seeking to prove the viability of urban farming, Hive Urban Farms is passionate about changing public thinking and providing fresh local produce.
NEVER.25: BRITISH BRAND CATEGORY WINNER
100% produced in Scotland, Never.25 offers a unique spirit: the Scottish take on Eau Du Vie. The product is completely produced in Scotland, from base spirit to the process of bottling, labelling, and waxing, all of which is done by hand by creator Kecia McDougall with the help from her daughter. Working towards total transparency, Never.25 uses traditional whisky techniques to elaborate its base spirit, with ingredients that are all sourced locally. The barley and wheat that forms the base of the spirit is local, as are the fruits used to flavour it, from raspberries and strawberries to seasonal varieties like windblown apples.
“The quality of this year’s entries was truly outstanding - it was a pleasure to spend time with each of the category winners and to acknowledge the time, effort and passion that goes into creating such exciting products and brands. We couldn’t be prouder to have Max Scotford of Bullion Chocolate as our ambassador for food and drink start-ups for the coming year”
Holly Shackleton, editor of Speciality Food and founder and judge of the New Producer Awards
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