A GARDEN centre café has won gold at a national food award ceremony.

Perrywood Garden Centre in Tiptree entered the 2018 FreeFrom Eating Out Awards where they won the top prize in the Newbies category.

These national awards, now in their fifth year, raise awareness and set a standard of “free-from” eating within the food service industry.

All winners were visited by one of the expert secret diner judges, all of which are coeliac or food intolerant themselves.

The judge described the food at Perrywood as “delicious” and said the coffee shop was a “hidden gem nestled within a beautiful garden centre”.

They then sampled the gluten-free sandwich, the gluten and dairy free scone and gluten free coffee cake, all of which were highly commended.

The judge said: “When ordering the staff took allergens very seriously and wrote them down separately, stopping to use a different colour highlighter for each allergen we mentioned.

“All the food that we ordered came on plates with a thick blue ring around them, whereas people ordering food that did not need to worry about allergens just had solid white plates.

“For an establishment like this I thought it was really well thought out and something I wish larger restaurants could do so mix ups don’t happen.”

Business developer Hannah Powell said: “To win gold at the FreeFrom Awards is a fantastic achievement and is testament to our hard-working and dedicated Coffee Shop team.

“As a business, we are passionate about catering for as many dietary requirements as possible - including vegan, dairy free and gluten free.

“Our dedicated Coffee Shop team are always on the lookout for delicious new recipes to add to our growing free-from and vegan menus.

“From breakfasts and sweet treats to afternoon teas, we are very proud of our freshly made to order options.

“Free-from” food caters to people who have allergies to foods which may contain things like gluten, dairy or peanuts.

For details, visit freefromeatingoutawards.co.uk.