• Judges

    We've got a top notch team!

    Adam Mani

    As CEO and Founder, Adam’s key focuses include developing and executing growth strategy, overseeing new product development and branding, and securing new sites for domestic and international expansion. Since founding Creams in 2008, Adam and his business partner Balal Aqil have grown the company from two stores to an impressive 90-strong dessert café brand. Employing more than 1,400 people around the country and working with a variety of franchise partners, Adam empowers them to provide a high quality, distinctive customer proposition in an exciting and fast-growing market. In the next few years, he plans to expand the brand internationally starting with the United States and Egypt.


    Alan Barratt

    Alan Barratt

    Alan has had a lifelong journey with entrepreneurship starting at the age of 11 when he was nearly expelled from school for selling cakes in the playground to his fellow pupils. He managed to resolve the situation by negotiating a deal to sell to the teachers at preferential rates, and it was at this point he realised he wanted to work for himself and that his powers of persuasion were a valuable asset and that he was also unemployable!


    30 years later he still selling snacks, albeit now healthy ones, with the Carb Killa range of bars having become one of the top selling items in impulse confectionary in the UK.


    He is a huge fan of all things military, hence the name Grenade®, and is happiest when shooting either clays or long distance targets.

    Anna Richey & Alla Ouvarova

    Anna and Alla are the founders of Two Chicks, the UK's first liquid egg white brand. Two Chicks launched in Selfridges back in 2007 after identifying a gap in the market for a fat and cholesterol free, lower calorie alternative to whole eggs.


    Two Chicks mission is to help people make better choices and live healthier lives and the brand has grown to embrace a range of convenient and innovative egg-based products including an organic liquid egg white, an ambient egg white, a liquid whole egg, and a fresh ready-to-use pancake mix. You can find Two Chicks in leading UK retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrison's, Ocado, Wholefoods, Booths, Amazon Fresh plus many more.

    Anthony Fletcher

    graze is the UK’s number one healthy snack brand, achieving sales across both its direct to consumer and retail business' in excess of $100m. Along the way it has also built the world’s fastest, most accurate snack weighing machine, gathered half a billion consumer snack ratings and designed a box-folding robot which can fold cardboard in 16 different ways.


    Within this time Anthony has been responsible for taking the business to the US and achieving a $32m run rate in the first year, launching the brand into retail and securing distribution in over 100,000 stores across multiple countries. He led the sale of the business private equity group Carlyle in 2012 and then to leading global consumer group Unilever in 2019.


    Previously, Anthony held various roles at the smoothie business Innocent Drinks, including manufacturing, innovation and knitting lots of bobble hats

    Claire Harper

    Claire Harper is the co-founder and Managing Director of Greater Manchester based Harper Innovations, parent company of Muscle Moose. Muscle Moose specialises in bringing protein snacks and drinks to the mainstream, with stockists in the UK including Sainsbury’s and Holland & Barrett. Following a period of rapid growth, Muscle Moose products are now stocked in several countries across the globe.


    Believing that everyone should have easy access to healthier alternative snacks, Claire works with her team at Harper Innovations to produce innovative protein fortified products that offer customers a better snacking choice.

    Damien Lee​

    By having a natural risk reward mentality, Damien Lee has always had an interest in running his own businesses. After miraculously winning with stage 4 cancer, he decided to create a new business - Mr Lee's Pure Foods.

    The winner of Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2019 - Small Business of the Year, the 2018 The Sunday Times Maserati 100 innovators list, and finalist for Amazon & The Confederation of British Industry Growing Business Awards 2016 - UK Entrepreneur of the Year.

    Damien has also worked on Charity & UN related causes for many years which continues today with Mr Lee’s and the charities the company supports along with the setting up of the Mr Lee’s Foundation which will help fund worthy causes in different parts of the world.

    Dan Head

    Head of Foodservice, Dan, has experience in writing and implementing market entry and growth plans in both small & large companies and has been responsible for the successful execution of major household brands.


    Dan started his career at Procter and Gamble where he was responsible for execution of launches and campaigns for the likes of Gillette, Olay, Fairy, Pampers and Oral-B. Following his time here he moved into the Foodservice division of a small soup supplier. As part of the team who grew this channel into a multi-million pound division of the company; he decided to share this knowledge and expertise of the industry with start-ups, SMEs and larger brands who needed Foodservice support.


    Dan has since worked with over 30 brands across the UK and the US.

    Gareth Hobbs

    Gareth is MD of Visionary Food Solutions, a team of Food and Drink specialists who work with brands needing commercial support to accelerate their business. The company has a huge focus on working with brands that are new, innovative and on trend, whilst Gareth’s role is heading up the team he also mentors a number of brand founders as they plot their course from conception to launch, and scaling up.


    As well as working with founders, Gareth works with young entrepreneurs and students from a number of universities.


    Outside of Visionary Food Solutions and the world of Food & Drink, Gareth is also Co-Founder of a number of food start-ups, with a focus on sustainability.

    Giles Humphries​

    Giles is co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Mindful Chef. Former M&C Saatchi marketeer, Giles has experience in the brand, digital and experiential space. Giles previously worked at innovative industry leading e-commerce gaming brand Betfair. With over ten years experience in the marketing industry, Giles runs Mindful Chef’s marketing communications.


    Heerum Fleary

    Heerum has been a food & beverage buyer for over 14 years. She has worked mainly in foodservice and food manufacturing for large blue chip companies.


    Innoveat was founded by Heerum in 2015, it is the UK’s largest virtual marketplace for food & beverage brands.


    After a career in airline catering, Heerum founded TickEat in 2015: a strategic business partner for food and beverage brands seeking to place their products in the travel, leisure and hospitality industries.

    James Shapland

    Coffee #1 & Coffi Lab

    James Shapland is the Co-Founder of Coffee #1. Under his tenure Coffee #1 won Best Coffee Chain in the UK over 4 consecutive years and cemented itself as a formidable presence on the British high street. In 2011, James sold the business to Welsh brewer SA Brain for a record sum. Coffee #1 is now visible in over 100 locations across the UK.


    James is currently developing a new neighbourhood coffee brand, Coffi Lab with launch anticipated in the second half of 2020 in Cardiff.


    Prior to Coffee #1 James worked in European Equities at Investment Bank, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein. He studied French and Business at Birmingham University.

    Jamie Barber

    Jamie is an entrepreneur, advisor and the co-founder/CEO of Hush Mayfair, Cabana Restaurants and Hache Restaurants.


    He is a "Dragon" on BBC/Netflix's My Million Pound Menu. He's also the former owner of Kitchen Italia, Villandry Restaurants and Sake No Hana.


    Jamie is an investor and advisor to various retail and leisure funds. He's also an ex-corporate lawyer with media firm Harbottle & Lewis.

    Jane Milton

    Jane helps food businesses make the connections they need and get in front of the people that can best help their business make the next key move. She is renowned in the food industry and has a strong network of contacts with specific food industry expertise from production to finance, from photography to law.

    With over 30 years expertise in the food industry and a proven track record for helping food businesses achieve great results, Jane is in demand to identify strategies and bring them to fruition within the food industry.

    She is a member of the Guild of Food Writers and a published author; her Mexican cookery books have sold over 100,000 copies and continues to be republished. She also writes trade articles and in-depth sector reports.

    Jason Gibb

    After a decade of being a TV producer, Jason bought an abandoned olive grove in Italy and started a business selling olive oil. With no background in food it was a sharp learning curve but soon their oil was selling in shops like Selfridges, Harrods, John Lewis and Waitrose.


    When Jason started out, there was little support for food businesses like his so he started an online forum for food and drink entrepreneurs called The FoodHub to share the tales of triumph and disaster and all those handy tips they have learnt along the way. The incredible response inspired him to start the UK’s first food founders’ festival.


    Jason is now working on a vegan brand called Unruly Foods which aims to bring plant based foods to the masses.

    John Shepherd​

    John Shepherd is the Owner and Managing Director of Partridges which is one of the few family run food shops in central London. It was founded 48 years ago and cherishes its original idea of providing the very finest quality foods. Partridges was awarded a Royal Warrant as grocer to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 1994 and in 2008 John became President of the Royal Warrant Holders Association.

    Six years ago Partridges launched Startisans, an initiative to help ‘Start-Up Food & Drink Artisans’ find a route to market and operates 10 Shepherd’s Market pop-ups around London including the vibrant Saturday Food Fine Market outside its flagship store in Duke of York Square, Chelsea.

    Last year, on behalf of Partridges, John received ‘Icon of Speciality Food’ Award and ‘In Good Taste’ Award at The Chelsea Awards as well as hosting the first annual World Chelsea Bun Awards which this year went online with entries being received from all over the world.

    John Stapleton

    John Stapleton is the ‘Authentic Entrepreneur’ with 30 years’ experience in pioneering new FMCG categories and establishing and growing successful consumer-led businesses in both the UK and the USA. John now actively manages an investor/Non-Executive Director portfolio contributing value-added business growth advice, guidance and mentoring to business owners.


    John has first-hand experience in start-up, early stage growth and scale-up stage businesses, having co-founded 3 FMCG businesses, building and growing each to exit.


    John helps design creative, practical, experience-based solutions to problems, challenges and opportunities that brand owners encounter in starting, growing and scaling their companies, across all areas of business.

    Jon Simon​

    After travelling around Australia in his early twenties, Jon teamed up with his brother in law (Tristan) and set out to re-invent the humble British pie. They scrabbled together some basic equipment and set up Pieminister in Bristol. The business now operates a successful chain of restaurants across the UK, supplies all the major supermarkets and fine food halls and holds the crown as the number 1 premium pie brand in the UK.


    Jon has been recognised in The Sunday Times Maserati 100 innovators list, Sunday Times Fast Track 100, London Stock exchange 100 Companies to Inspire Britain and won multiple awards for Entrepreneurship.


    Jon actively continues to support ethical and sustainable entrepreneurs and start-ups. He’s also the co-founder of Good Sixty, an ethical e-commerce platform supporting independent food producers and retailers.

    Jon Wright

    Jon Wright is the co-founder of innocent drinks, the juice company he started with two friends from a market stall in 1999 and now the biggest juice brand in Europe, and Jam Jar Investments, a venture capital firm that invests in UK start-ups including Deliveroo, Graze.com and Babylon Health.


    Jon and his two co-founders sold their controlling stake in innocent to Coca Cola in 2013 with the business valued at over half a billion dollars. They remain on the board as advisors.

    Julianne Ponan

    Julianne Ponan is the CEO of free-from snack brand Creative Nature which creates, manufactures and supplies raw super foods, snacks and food mixes which are free from the top 14 allergens.


    The company exports to 14 countries and is now well known in the UK for its delicious products and baking mixes. They are stocked in major supermarkets including Asda, the Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Tesco as well as many independent outlets up and down the UK. The company also sells online.


    Julianne went on to trademark the name and brand to protect it in the future – all on a £35k budget. To measure how far she has come in 2020 the company’s turnover should reach close to £2million. Julianne is also on an international speaker on business matters and on allergy and anaphylaxis awareness.

    Karen Green

    Karen is MD of Food Mentor, a consultancy business which supports food and drink brands in creating profitable sales growth through better marketing, gaining more listings and negotiating better deals.


    Karen was originally a retail buyer for Tesco and Boots and then crossed the table into commercial roles, latterly for ichiban UK selling sushi to UK retailers and also launching the Yumie sushi brand.


    Outside of Food Mentor, Karen is NED for several food brands and volunteers for Virgin Start up as business mentor and trainer. She is also a volunteer mentor for PWN on the Cote D’Azur where she lives. She is also the author of best selling book Recipe for Success – the ingredients of a profitable food business


    Lucy Wager

    Out to Launch Limited, PB&Co

    & Little Bandits

    An experienced product developer turned entrepreneur, Lucy launched a first to market plant based brand, Pudology in 2012 and has recently become co-founder of free from kids brand Little Bandits. She is Food Director at the specialist Plant Based consultancy PB&Co and she also supports start ups and established Food Brands at her consultancy business Out to Launch Ltd.

    Myles Hopper

    Myles is co-founder and Chief Community Officer of Mindful Chef. A professional nutritional coach and former Fitness First Ambassador, Myles studied at one of the world's most respected nutrition education programs. Having worked in the health and wellness industry for over a decade, Myles is able to draw upon real client data and experience. Myles runs Mindful Chef’s community and brand partnership programmes such as One Feeds Two and B Corp.


    Nick Coleman

    Nick Coleman has co-founded Snaffling Pig, Startup Logistics & Medical Supermarket. Inspired by the food and drink category and seeing a gap in the market to innovate a traditional pub snack, he focussed on taking the humble pork scratching to places it’s never been before. He has appeared on Dragons’ Den, and was the GBEA UK Food and Drink Entrepreneur of Year UK 2019.

    Paddy Willis

    Paddy launched the UK's first food & drink accelerator and is CEO of Mission Ventures Ltd, driving new initiatives to help transform the food industry. He also sits on the Investment Committee for Batch Ventures (Mission Ventures' JV with Warburtons), the Good Food Fund (tackling childhood obesity) and Vala Capital's EIS fund.

    He is listed in the inaugural "The Maserati 100"​ (2015) recognising entrepreneurs supporting the next generation.

    Paul (Pablo) Ettinger

    From starting with 5 small coffee bars in London in 1997, over 10 years he built the F&B and commercial side of the business. From 2008 he focused on the International development of Caffe Nero with particular responsibility for food and beverage and more recently has further concentrated on the development of the music promotion activities of Caffe Nero. They now have over 1000 stores in eleven countries including Harris & Hoole and Coffee#1.

    Peter Sidwell​

    Chef, TV presenter, author

    & serial entrepreneur

    Peter Sidwell is not only a chef, TV presenter and author of five cookbooks. He is an entrepreneur of multiple businesses across various sectors.


    Peter has continued through his career to do it his own way, having self-published his first cookbook himself in 2008. He has built his career through investing in himself, his vision and his culinary abilities.


    With a show Currently airing on Amazon Prime Video called A Taste of the Lakes, Pete wrote, produced and presented this show. Using Prime Video has given the opportunity to market his style of cooking to a golbal audience.

    Pip Murray

    Pip brought to life Pip & Nut, an all natural nut butter brand , that's on a mission to put the nut back into nut-trition. Launched in January 2015 you can now find our squirrels in the aisles of top retail stores like Tesco, Morrison’s, ASDA,Holland & Barrett, Sainsbury's, Ocado, Selfridges, Wholefoods, As Nature Intended, Booths, Sourced Market, Partridges, Revital & many more.


    Sahar Hashemi OBE

    Coffee Republic & Skinny Candy

    A former lawyer, Sahar started the UK’s first chain of coffee bars with her brother Bobby, building Coffee Republic to 110 stores and a £50 million market cap in five years. Later she founded market segment-defining sugar-free sweets brand Skinny Candy, selling it to confectionery conglomerate Glisten PLC in 2007.


    Since moving on from her businesses, Sahar has worked to bring start up mindset to big companies facing relentless change and in need of more agility and innovation. Her most recent book Start Up Forever was named The Financial Times Best Business Book of the Month in March 2019.


    In 2012 she was awarded an OBE for services to the UK economy and to charity. She has been named “Pioneer to the life of the Nation” by Her Majesty The Queen and Young Global leader by the World Economic Forum.


    Samantha Evans &

    Shauna Guinn

    Hang Fire

    Samantha Evans and Shauna Guinn are restaurateurs, food entrepreneurs, writers, TV presenters and outdoor cooking specialists that fuse Southern US cooking with seasonal British ingredients. They slammed the door on their 20-year careers to pursue a life in food together. And in just 6 years went from selling US-style barbecue from a back-street boozer in Wales, to winning OFM Awards ‘Best Restaurant’ for Hang Fire Southern Kitchen in 2018. They present their own cooking show on BBC One ‘Sam & Shauna’s Big Cook Out’, now on its third season.


    Stuart Prescott

    Following a degree in Nutrition and Food Science, Stuart has had an exceptional career in Product Development, having developed some of the UK’s most loved brands.


    From Gordon’s G&T in a can to Branston Pickle and Kettle Chips, he has a wealth of cross-category technical experience that he brings to the table whilst understanding what it takes to be a start-up entrepreneur.


    Stuart is now the Co-Founder of 5th Season – a start-up brand offering a range of healthy and delicious 100% fruit snacks.

    Suzie Walker

    Suzie is on a mission to get people making better-snacking choices. With an immense passion for real, whole, good food she wants to forge a real food revolution.


    With nearly 15 years in the industry; her journey moves from large multinationals such as Nestle, to the challenger brands such as innocent drinks and Little Dish. In 2013 having qualified in Nutrition she co-founded The Primal Pantry (paleo free from snacks), this was recently acquired by Nurture Brands.


    Today Suzie relishes working with food and drink brands who support her real good food philosophy.

    Tara Mei

    Tara started Kitchen Table Projects in 2015 by combining her two most favourite things: food and making things happen. After running her own food business after graduating, she knew how challenging being a food entrepreneur can be. There had to be a better way to go about it!


    Tara has worked with over 500 food brands, supporting them through business bootcamps, speed mentoring sessions, networking nights and retail pop-ups.


    One of the biggest challenges for emerging brands is bringing their product to market, so Tara has recently launched Hotcakes, a simple and convenient online B2B platform.

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