We were bowled over by the response when we opened our competition, Virgin Foodpreneur 2017 together with Intu. We were on the search to find the UK’s brightest and best food businesses, and everybody certainly delivered – we had hundreds of entries, all of a truly exceptional quality.

We’re very excited to now reveal the shortlist, who will pitch to a panel of experts from Intu, Virgin StartUp, and the food industry – including one of the winners of Foodpreneur 2015, Gem Misa of Cauli Rice, whose products are now stocked in several major retailers across the UK. Drum roll please!

Hannah McCollum – ChicP

Founded by Hannah McCollum, ChicP was set up to bring vibrant, healthy dips to the food market. Tired of bland and unhealthy options, Hannah decided to combine her cooking skills (having previously worked as a private chef) with a desire to help prevent food waste. The resulting dips are healthy and imaginative raw vegetable-based hummus, created with surplus vegetables.

Jamie McCloskey – Love Corn

Jamie McCloskey is the founder of Love Corn, the first premium roasted corn brand. With a snack that’s high fibre, vegan, gluten and sugar free, their ethos focuses on simple and clean ingredients, healthy eating without comprising on taste, and doing good with their business.

Rupesh Thomas – Tuk Tuk Chai

Tuk Tuk Chai is the brainchild of Indian-born entrepreneur Rupesh Thomas, and his Parisian wife Alexandra. When travelling across Kerala, Rupesh introduced Alex to delicious chai – but when they returned to London they couldn’t find anything approaching the delicious and bold flavours they had fallen in love with. Realising they would have to do it thenselvess, they’ve been brewing and perfecting the perfect chai in their London kitchen ever since.

Ryan Panchoo – Borough 22

When Ryan Panchoo’s wife and children began suffering with gluten and dairy intolerances, and they discovered the lack of multi-allergen-friendly products when out and about in their hometown of London, he decided to take matters into his own hands. In 2014, after much researching and tweaking, Ryan crafted a recipe for firstly gluten-free – then dairy and soya free, and finally egg-free – doughnuts. This means they’re not just suitable for allergy sufferers, but for vegans too. They’re award-winning and use the best British ingredients.

Santiago Navarro - Garçon Wines

Garçon Wines is the first business to deliver full-sized bottles of wine through the letterbox. With a passion for sourcing quality wines from around the globe, their innovative, unique bottles – made from a glass-like plastic – are designed to fit through your letter box in a specially-crafted box, whilst still fitting a whole bottle of wine. They even stack easily, to save on storage space.

James Cadbury – Love Cocoa

James Cadbury, as the name suggests, comes from an excellent chocolate heritage. Founded in 2016, his business Love Cocoa reinvents British favourites with a contemporary twist, creating high-quality, hand-crafted chocolate, that can either be purchased online or as a subscription service directly through your door. 100 years after the original Cadbury products were stocked in Fortnum & Mason’s, Love Cocoa are now stocked there too.

Alex Wright – Dash Water

Alex Wright is one half of Dash Water, a business selling naturally-infused vegetable and fruit water. With a background in selling fizzy soft drinks, the Dash team became interested in creating their own healthy, sugar-free infused waters – and the idea for Dash was born. They’re now stocked with retailers such as Selfridges.

The founders want to encourage people to drink more water, and helps solve the problem of wastage of wonky fruit and veg – a significant amount of produce never gets to consumer’s plates, and they want to change this.

Kaye Foong – Cheeky Boy Sauces

Cheeky Boy Sauces  is a range of fresh-tasting, delicious, all-natural sauces and dips created by Mr Kaye Foong. Whilst travelling all over the world for work, Kaye enjoyed finding amazing local food from local vendors and diners across Europe and Asia. On his return to the UK, Kaye decided to bring these tongue-popping flavours back with him, setting up as an independent producer of authentic sauces, dips and marinades.

Nick Coleman - Snaffling Pig

Snaffling Pig are makers of big, bold flavoured pork crackling of the highest quality, launched in 2014 by three friends who were on a mission to start a business with £500. After winning New Business of the Year in Buckinghamshire the brand has gone from strength to strength, with nine flavours now available. The team also appeared on Dragons’ Den in 2016 where they received investment from Nick Jenkins, co-founder of MoonPig. On top of the core product of pork scratchings, Snaffling Pig also produce their own craft beer.

Alexander Foss Sims, Antler and Bird

Antler & Bird brew speciality coffee in cold-filtered water for 16 hours, then finely filter it to create a naturally sweet and ready to drink coffee that’s suitable for vegans. They’re currently stocked in a number of independent retailers across London and the South East.

Daniel Dery - Coppernose

Established in the heart of the Cotswolds, CopperNose is the creation of two brothers, Liam and Daniel.  Having grown up with American beef jerky, CopperNose was inspired to set a new standard in craft jerky.  Using only 100% grass fed, ethically sourced British silverside beef, CopperNose is able to track and trace each order back to the farm. They’re currently sold through independent retailers such as Wholefoods, As Nature Intended and Selfridges, as well as at many festivals.

Katie McDermott - Not Dogs

Not Dogs is fast food with a meat-free twist. It started life as a food van travelling round festivals where co-founders Katie and Jane would supply their Quorn hot-dogs to the public, and now they have a permanent fast-casual restaurant in the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham with two delivery mechanics.

Alexandra Rawe - The Dorset Dairy Co.

The Dorset Dairy Co make Dorset’s answer to Greek Yogurt. It’s made on the family farm using milk straight from the cows and adds nothing but culture. It’s currently sold through two local distributers who supply 50 retail outlets in Dorset.

Dan Pawson - Seachips

The UK’s first hand-crafted salmon skin crisps, using often wasted, yet nutrient-packed skin. They’re available in three flavours – lightly slated, salt & vinegar and lime & chilli, and all available in Fenwick’s department store and online. The business started after Dan and Dom, who were oth working in a restaurant, started crisping up the wasted fish skins to have with an after-service beer and then couldn’t believe you couldn’t buy them anywhere else.

Andy Young - Black Milk

Black Milk is a dessert café for the Instagram generation, appearing onto the Manchester café scene in early 2015. Since then its unique desert menu has defined ‘food porn’ in the city. It’s about to undergo rapid expansion from one café at the start of 2017 to four by the end of the year, and they have also run pop-ups with brands including Kellogg’s and Topshop.

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