The Most Exciting Food & Drink Entrepreneurs to watch

We get a little bit excited each year when our Service Industries category puts us in touch with some of the UK’s most exciting business talent in the world of food and drink.

From mouth-watering burgers, to silky craft ales and fiery street food; show-stopping noodles to ethical juices and eco-conscious confectionaries, we hear the stories of true rock stars of cuisine.

Napkins at the ready, here’s 15 of the most exciting entrepreneurs in the food and drink industry, running businesses that are guaranteed to take the nation’s taste-buds by storm in 2018.

Timo BoldtGousto

Founded by Timo Boldt, Gousto’s ready-to-cook meal kits comprise measured ingredients and recipes that turn kitchen-dodgers into master chefs. Championing sustainability, Gousto is one of the UK’s fastest-growing start-ups and has just secured £28.5 million in fresh backing.

Andrew, Debbie, Jamie, Roddy and Ellie KeebleHeck! Food

The Keebles bring you Heck! Food, a fantastic range of gluten-free sausages, burgers and balls which also come in a great veggie range. Based in Yorkshire, the family’s industry heritage, huge expertise and use of fresh herbs delivers truly belting bangers to festival- and event-goers nationwide.

Kerstin Robinson and Julia Kessler Nix & Kix

Kerstin and Julia are spicing up the soft drinks market to break the social stigma around choosing not to drink alcohol with Nix & Kix. Free of refined sugar and anything artificial, the London-based firm has infused imagination and passion into their exciting new drinks range, which also cater to vegan tastes.

Alan and Juliet Barratt Grenade

This sports nutrition company has been powering the UK since 2009 with a range of high-protein bars, drinks and other explosive snacks. Founded in 2009 by Alan and Juliet, the Grenade brand provides top-level athletes with original, uniquely-formulated products bursting with flavour, nutritional value and personality.

Samantha Evans and Shauna Guinn – Hang Fire

Co-founders Samantha Evans and Shauna Guinn discovered the true meaning of American BBQ on a trip to the States in 2012. Six years later and ‘The first ladies of the ‘cue’ are stunning south Wales palates with locally-sourced produce that blazes with hot ‘n’ smoky flavours. Their success secured the coveted ‘Best Street Food’ award at the BBCR4 Food Awards.

Dougal Gunn SharpInnis & Gunn

Beer brewed in bourbon barrels could never work, could it? In 2002, an outside-the-box idea from founder Dougal Gunn Sharp led to the creation of Innis & Gunn, which today produces a range of award-winning lager-beer and IPAs for those who prefer a hoppier brew. Subsequent Innis & Gunn kitchens put these innovative tipples in harmony with dishes such as IPA battered fish and chips and the Scotch Egg with a beery ‘brewn’ sauce.

Charlie and Harry Thuillier Oppo Ice Cream

A South American adventure of a lifetime led brothers Charlie and Harry to discover the most fantastic fruit they’d ever eaten. By 2014, Charlie and Harry had brought their treasure trove of tastes to market, locked inside some of the most indulgent and exotically tasty ice cream to ever hit UK shores.

Rosie GindayMiss Macaroon

Training as a high-end pastry chef and with work experience in a Michelin-starred restaurant, Rosie Ginday is behind this Birmingham firm’s exquisite macaroons whose vibrant colours are matched only by their deliciousness. When matched to a Miss Macaroon Panatone, you’ve got a confectionary combination that’s guaranteed to wow guests at any special occasion.

Keith, Greg, Kit, Nathan, Danny, Luke and Guy McAvoySeven Bro7hers Brewery

Within four short years of launching, Seven Bro7hers Brewery is well on its way to becoming one of the most exciting brewery and bar businesses in the UK. Having set up their first bar in Salford, the brothers have plans to open a venue in both Leeds and Liverpool, and have a successful £150,000 crowdfunding campaign behind them.

Philip Eeles and Tom Barton Honest Burgers

Founders of Brixton-born Honest Burgers, Philip and Tom are on a mission to make the best British burgers available. Using the more expensive chuck and rib cap from grass-fed Scottish Highland cows, these burgers are juicier, chunkier and all about the beef. Homemade veggie fritters, pickles and Honest sauces are the perfect accompaniment to a seriously heavy taste baseline.

Josh Littlejohn MBE and Alice Thompson Social Bite

Josh and Alice are doing incredible things with Social Bite, a sandwich shop with a mission to end homelessness in Scotland. The social enterprise last year raised £4 million towards their goal and in May opened a village in Edinburgh, providing housing for homeless people in the city.

Ifeyinwa and Emeka FrederickChuku’s London

This Nigerian tapas restaurant is the place to ‘chop, chat and chill’. Whether choosing traditional dishes or one with a unique Chuku’s twist, guests can expect a menu bursting with authentic Nigerian flavours. Brother-sister duo, Ifeyinwa and Emeka, created Chuku’s as a place to enjoy fantastic food, relax and chat, so soak up the country’s chill-out beats and make yourself at home!

Kasim AliWaterloo Tea

Kasim launched Waterloo Tea in 2008, long before the specialist teas trend took off in the UK. Now a rapidly growing market, Waterloo Tea is at the forefront, exporting products across the world Paris, Amsterdam, Adelaide, Berlin, Budapest and Dubai, building on the success of their three local teahouses in the Cardiff area.

Damien Lee Mr Lee’s Noodles

When cancer diagnosis prevented Damien Lee from eating his favourite noodles, he decided he would dedicate his life to creating the healthy and delicious version of the dish. The dream is now realised, as Mr Lee’s company brings freshness straight from the paddy fields of Vietnam through gluten-free, award-winning noodles.

Natasha BowesBio-tiful Dairy

Bio-tiful Dairy boasts a range of cultured milk that’s inspired by kefir, a fermented milk drink from the mountains that divide Europe and Asia. Recreating authentic recipes, founder Natasha Bowes creates high-quality beverages using the very best of British milk to deliver superior and nutritious refreshment at any time of day.

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