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01 January 2000 by
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A PRESENTATION lunch on Monday at London's Regent Hotel celebrated the talent of 30 of the brightest and most dedicated young people in the catering industry. They had gathered together as winners of the seventh Acorn Awards, organised by Caterer & Hotelkeeper and sponsored by CPC Caterplan.

The winners, who are expected to become the industry's future stars, were aged under 30 on 9 March 1994, and represent all sectors of the industry. They include hotel general managers, food and beverage managers, chefs, training managers, army captains, marketing directors, a banqueting co-ordinator, and a bars manager.

They work not only for restaurants and hotels, but also for hospitals, motorway service areas, and contract catering companies. Despite their different backgrounds, what they all have in common is a deep commitment to their chosen careers and they are an inspiration to all those who work with them.

This year's panel of judges included three former Acorn winners - David Elton, director of sales and marketing (Europe) for Ritz-Carlton, Eva Barkasz, club manager of Mosimann's, London, and Jacqueline Campbell, business development manager of the St Pierre Hotel, Chepstow, Gwent. They were joined by Robin Lees, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, Professor David Foskett, programmes manager at the School of Hospitality, Thames Valley University, Bev Puxley, head of Hotel and Catering Studies, Westminster College, Andrew Alltimes, director of Progressive Training, and Trevor Benson, foodservice director at CPC Caterplan.

The winners are now eligible to join the prestigious Acorn Club, which offer members an opportunity to meet and network with like-minded young professionals. Founded five years ago, the club meets four times a year - either at lunches or dinners with invited speakers who talk on industry issues. David Elton, an Acorn winner in 1989, is the present chairman of the Acorn Club. "The club is intent on being a voice to the industry and helping to improve its image as an employer," he says.

JOSEPH ANSARI (29)

BARS MANAGER, Smollensky's Restaurants, London

Joseph Ansari joined Smollensky's Balloon in Dover Street as a bus boy in 1987. His performance and enthusiasm for his job led proprietor Michael Gottlieb to create a position for him as senior bus boy and trainer, after 18 months. He then went on to train as a cocktail barman becoming, as Gottlieb says, "one of our best barmen infecting customers and staff alike with his good humour and gentle style".

After travelling and working at restaurants in Los Angeles for a year where he "learnt the importance of getting to know his customers", Ansari returned to London to the job of head barman at Smollensky's on the Strand. With a drinks turnover in excess of ú1.5m, he has ensured the bar is consistently in profit and has built up one of the strongest bar staff teams in London's West End. He is currently also responsible for the bar at Smollensky's Balloon, and has now got his eyes on training for restaurant floor management within the company, perhaps eventually moving on to general management.

STEWART BAIN (27)

DIRECTOR OF SALES, May Fair Inter-Continental Hotel, London

Stewart Bain has already made his mark since his appointment as the youngest-ever director of sales at the Inter-Continental Hotel Group, in September 1993. He has made five sales trips to the USA and is presently involved in researching new markets to the Cayman Islands, Japan and Australia.

Bain's career in the hotel industry began as a pot-washer at the Sheraton Breakwater Casino hotel in Australia to help finance his way through James Cook University, where he was studying for an education degree. After working his way around various departments of the hotel, Bain quickly decided that his future lay in sales. "I was fascinated to find out where the guests came from and understand how the hotel promoted its image," he says.

To further his career he returned to his native Scotland to work for a recruitment agency, Business Appointment Recruitment Consultants, from where he moved to join the pre-opening team at the Balmoral hotel, Edinburgh, initially as sales and marketing executive, and then as sales manager. "It was from that point that my career rocketed and it was Peter Tyrie at the Balmoral who gave me my big break." Following a 15-month stint at the St Andrews Old Course Hotel, Bain moved to London to join the May Fair Inter-Continental.

PETER BATEMAN-CHAMPAIN (28)

CONFERENCE & BANQUETING COORDINATOR, Leith's at the Centre, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London

Peter Bateman-Champain joined the QEII Conference Centre nearly three years ago as a dogsbody to help with preparations for the G7 economic summit, during which 25,000 meals were served in four days. He quickly showed a natural ability for communication and organisation and within three months was offered the position of conference and banqueting co-ordinator, a job which he continues to revel in today. "It's an enormous challenge, dealing with so many different nationalities and successfully providing the very high standards they expect of us," he says.

Prior to joining Leith's, Bateman-Champain, who trained at Westminster Hotel School, worked as a commis chef at the Connaught Rooms and in various pubs and restaurants, as well as spending two years working his way around the world. One of his most recent achievements has been setting up staff forums for the 56 catering staff at the QEII Conference Centre.

"It is important to encourage all levels of staff to contribute to the running of the company which they work for." Another success was his involvement in running a temporary 1,000-seat restaurant at the Meadowbank stadium during the Edinburgh European summit in December 1992.

ANDREW BAXTER (23)

CHEF DE PARTIE, Swallow Royal Hotel, Bristol

Last year Andrew Baxter captained the British Junior Culinary Team at the Taste of Canada competition and personally gained two gold medals - the pinnacle of his career so far. An enormous boost early in his career came when, as a student at Bournemouth & Poole College of Further Education, he was given the opportunity to work for six months with Anton Mosimann at the Dorchester Hotel, London. "He is such a gentleman in the kitchen and a great motivating force," says Baxter.

After leaving college he went on to work for Mosimann at his newly opened private dining club as second commis, followed by a two-and-a-half year stint at the Ritz Club, London. It was here that he was introduced to competition work by head chef, John King. "Competitions provide you with the opportunity to express yourself more creatively as a chef than you can ever do in your day-to-day work." Baxter moved to the Swallow Royal in Bristol in August 1991 and is presently senior chef de partie on the fish and sauce section.

ELLIE BROWN (27)

MANAGER, Jamies, Holborn, London, and DIRECTOR, Futurestar

Ellie Brown has achieved rapid success with Futurestar, a company that owns six bars and restaurants, predominantly within the City of London. She joined the group as a bars manager in 1989, after completing a degree in Food, Textiles and Consumer Studies at South Bank University and working in a number of bars and restaurants around London. Within three months she was promoted to manager of Jamies in Gresham Street.

Brown's introduction of innovative menus, her good rapport with customers and her development of a highly motivated team of staff resulted in the unit doubling its turnover in the next two years. When the company acquired three more units in 1991, Brown was appointed manager of Jamies in Holborn and quickly succeeded in achieving a turnover two-and-a-half times that achieved by the previous owner. Her success led to her promotion to director of the company last year, as well as retaining her managerial position of the Holborn outlet. Her new role involves training other unit managers, overseeing reporting systems and controlling monthly wine promotions.

Above all, she is convinced that her enthusiasm for customers - she makes a point of getting to know everyone who comes through the door - and her 16 staff are the basis of her success.

MASSIMO CELEGATO (28)

FOOD & BEVERAGE MANAGER, Hyde Park Hotel, London

Within six years Massimo Celegato has worked his way up from commis waiter to food and beverage manager of one of Forte Hotels' most exclusive properties. Italian-born Celegato arrived in London in 1984 to study business and English. In 1987 he joined Forte and after completing the company's food and beverage training scheme, was appointed banqueting manager at the Grosvenor House hotel, where he organised functions ranging in size from six to 1,500 covers throughout the hotel's 26 conference and banqueting suites.

Early last year Celegato was promoted to food and beverage manager at the Hyde Park Hotel, where he is responsible for the Park Room restaurant, the Ferrari Bar, room service, the kitchen, back of house and banqueting. Celegato is enthralled by the challenge and rewards of his job and advises young people coming into the industry that they should always aim to ensure the product is right and achieve the customer's expectations. He now intends to learn more about the bedroom side of hotels, with the ultimate ambition of moving into general management.

DUDLEY CLIFFORD (29)

FOOD & BEVERAGE MANAGER, Cromwell Hospital, London

A love of food is what brought Dudley Clifford into the industry in the first place and is something which continues to inspire him in the job he does today, as food and beverage manager at one of the country's leading private hospitals. He moved into hospital catering from Embassy Hotels, where he worked as food and beverage manager at the Runnymede Hotel, Egham, Surrey.

He is presently responsible for a budget of more than ú1m, leading a team of 51 staff and overseeing the service of 174,000 meals each year. Since joining the Cromwell Hospital in December 1991, he has upgraded catering standards to a level where they are promoted by the marketing department, saved ú30,000 in 1993 salaries by introducing new working practices without implementing redundancies, and has reduced absenteeism by more than 40%. Clifford strongly believes in applying the professionalism of top retailers to catering, by being both customer-orientated and showing a great interest in the end product - the food.

BELINDA COLES (28)

SALES & MARKETING DIRECTOR, BET Catering Services

Belinda Coles was the fourth person to join BET Catering Services following its formation in 1991. Since then she has been directly responsible for generating half of the ú69m of business achieved by the company. She was appointed from Berkshire Catering Services, where she was sales support manager, having previously worked as operations manager for Forte, when she pioneered the food courtyard service at London's Victoria Station.

Since joining BET, Coles has played a major role in improving its profile as one of the UK's leading companies in staff and education catering. She herself is now responsible for 15 staff in four divisions - state bidding, commercial sales, commercial operations, and marketing. She has also created a marketing department, gained state business from Gloucestershire, Merton, Camden, Kent, Richmond and Lancashire, and co-ordinates all of the company's public relations. "The company is well known for its work within state education, but we believe our long-term growth will be within the commercial arena," she says.

ANDREW CONEY (28)

DEPUTY GENERAL MANAGER, the Westbury, London

Andrew Coney's route into hotel management came via the sales and marketing business of Forte Hotels. He joined the company in 1983 as a management trainee and over the next four years completed his HCIMA training through day release and part-time study.

His first full-time position as sales manager at the Westbury was followed by appointments as sales and marketing director at Penina Golf and Resort Hotel in the Algarve, and then as sales and marketing director for all Forte's sales activity in the Algarve. Success in generating sales in these last two jobs, involving a total of 40 trips throughout Europe, led to his current position in October 1991.

As deputy general manager of the 244-bedroom Westbury hotel, Coney deputises for the general manager, as well as being directly responsible for the front of house, rooms, catering and sales departments. Described by his general manager, Peter Westbrook, as "assertive, confident and self-motivated", Coney himself believes that his transition from sales into a broader operational role will provide him with a sound base for becoming a general manager.

LUCAS DAGLISH (28)

SENIOR HEAD CHEF, Café Rouge, Wimbledon

Lucas Daglish spent his early career working his way around kitchens in Austria, France, Corsica and Canada, all of which broadened his experience and stood him in good stead for his present position. He joined the Pelican Group, which owns Café Rouge, in December 1991 as sous chef at its Wimbledon restaurant. Since then he has been promoted twice - first to head chef for the opening of the new Café Rouge at the Whiteleys Centre in London's Bayswater, and second to his present position.

As well as heading up a brigade of seven chefs at the 120-seat Wimbledon operation, Daglish is involved in recruiting and training sous and head chefs within the company, compiling new menus for the 17-strong chain, trouble-shooting at other kitchens and writing the Café Rouge French Regional Cook Book. Daglish's boss, managing director Karen Jones, describes him as "a wonderful example of an 1990s head chef, whose horizons extend far beyond the kitchen, and whose approach to the job embraces the best in modern management theory".

JASON DANCIGER (29)

MARKETING DIRECTOR, the Pelican Group

Jason Danciger believes his experience in both the kitchen and front of house is a great bonus in his present job, which involves marketing 17 Cafés Rouges, four Mamma Amalfis, as well as three individual restaurants. "I can understand what kind of promotion will be practical in each restaurant," he says. Danciger trained as a waiter at Westminster College, then moved into the kitchen at Interlude de Tabaillau, London, where he rose from apprentice to sous chef.

Danciger then moved on to Roux Restaurants and was appointed head chef at Salters Court for Kennedy Brookes, before becoming general manager for Justin de Blank at the National Gallery. Danciger joined the Pelican Group in 1990 as assistant manager at Café Rouge in Putney, and has since steadily progressed to operations manager, and eight months ago to marketing director - a job he earned in recognition of the successful promotional work he had undertaken for Café Rouge over the past four years. He has created two group-wide promotions - the French Regional Food Festival and Healthy Eating Week, which last year increased sales by 47%.

"There is a great deal of job satisfaction in being able to do something that has so much impact on turnover," he says. Danciger also contributes to the wider catering industry, through his work with the Craft Guild of Chefs, the Restaurant Services Guild and the Cookery and Food Association.

CLIVE DIXON (26)

HEAD CHEF, Lords of the Manor Hotel, Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire

In the one year that Clive Dixon has been head chef at Lords of the Manor, he has been awarded a Michelin star and the hotel's restaurant has been named County Restaurant of the Year in the 1994 Good Food Guide. Such success is the result of sheer determination and total self-confidence from a person who has wanted to be a chef since he was a toddler.

His early career took him to the Stanneylands Hotel, Wilmslow, Cheshire; Tynley Hall, Rotherwick, Hampshire; Le Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham (where chef-proprietor David Everitt-Matthias instilled in him a tremendous thirst for knowledge); Cliveden, Taplow, Berkshire, and his first head chef position at the Old Swan, Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire.

At Lords of the Manor, he has built up a sound brigade of six chefs, strongly believing every member of staff should be encouraged and respected as an individual. "That is the way you get the best out of your staff," he says.

CHRISTOPHER DUTTON (29)

GENERAL MANAGER, Manor Hotel, Meriden, West Midlands

At 26 years of age, Christopher Dutton became one of the youngest general managers within the 26-strong De Vere Group of hotels, when he was appointed to run the Ashley Hotel in Altrincham, Cheshire, three years ago.

Dutton joined the company's graduate management training programme in 1986, after completing a BTEC HND in hotel and catering management at Gloucestershire College. Fifteen months ago he moved to his present job at the 74-bedroom Manor Hotel, where he heads up a team of 56 full-time and 30 part-time staff - many of whom are much older than he is. "Hopefully I inspire them by understanding everyone's individual needs and involving them all in the day-to-day decision-making process," he says. Dutton's business acumen has helped considerably to increase the profit and popularity of the Manor Hotel. When last year De Vere became the first national hotel group to achieve the Investors In People standard, the Manor Hotel was upheld as one the best-prepared units.

MARTIN GREEN (28)

SOUS CHEF, Connaught Hotel, London

As well as being second in command to chef de cuisine, Michel Bourdin, every other weekend he is totally in charge of the 45-man kitchen, producing 250 to 300 covers, with some customers paying up to Áº200 per head.

"Becoming sous chef at the Connaught by the age of 25 is not easy to do," says Green. "It is a very strict, disciplined kitchen, and I believe in being firm, but fair, and would never treat anyone in a way that I wouldn't like to be treated myself." While recognising the financial rewards are not high at the beginning, Green firmly believes that dedication pays off in the end.

SIMON HAIGH (29)

CHEF DE CUISINE, Inverlochy Castle, Fort William

Simon Haigh runs a relaxed kitchen where his brigade of eight chefs are encouraged, rather than bullied, in their work. "Shouting doesn't encourage anyone," says Haigh, who ranks training of his staff as one of the most challenging aspects of his job.

Haigh's gentle approach is appreciated by managing director Michael Leonard who describes Haigh as "a model of professionalism, with excellent managerial skills and a credit to young and old who work under him".

Haigh returned to Inverlochy Castle (his first head chef position) in February 1992, having worked there as a commis chef in 1986. He had previously worked at Whitechapel Manor, South Molton, Devon, as sous chef; Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, Great Milton, Oxfordshire (where Raymond Blanc was an enormous influence); Hambleton Hall, Oakham, Leicestershire; and Rookery Hall, Nantwich, Cheshire.

JONATHAN HARRISON (28)

CHEF DE CUISINE, Swallow Hotel, Birmingham

Jonathan Harrison is no stranger to awards. His success last year in the Roux Diners Scholarship proved to be the pinnacle of his career so far, giving him the opportunity to work for three months alongside three Michelin-star chef Alain Ducasse at the Hôtel de Paris in Monte Carlo. On his return to England he took up his present position - his first head chef post.

Harrison studied at York College of Arts and Technology, and worked subsequently at Longueville Manor Hotel in Jersey (where head chef John Dicken was a major influence), and Bilborough Manor, near York, with Idris Caldora, "who nurtured and brought out the best in me". As head chef at the multi award-winning Swallow Hotel, he heads a brigade of 18 chefs and 13 kitchen porters, providing food for two 50-seat restaurants.

"My success so far has attracted a lot of media attention which has helped me to express myself better and has benefited my staff - the many head chefs I've met as a result are now keen to provide them with work opportunities."

PATRICK HOLTBY (29)

GROUP TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, Periquito Hotels

An interest in the development of people and staff welfare has taken Patrick Holtby down the personnel route of his hotel career, which began as a Forte management trainee at the Beverley Arms Hotel, Beverley, North Humberside.

He was given his first job in personnel as assistant manager (personnel and training) at the Dolphin & Anchor Hotel, Chichester, West Sussex, before moving on to the same position at the New Bath Hotel, Matlock, Derbyshire, and then the Posthouse, York, as reception manager.

Since joining Periquito in 1991, Holtby has been instrumental in developing a pilot scheme for National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), developing assessors and verifiers of NVQs throughout the company, and in setting up an in-house training centre to provide a more structured training programme for all staff.

"Hopefully I can help people recognise that training is an investment, rather than a cost," he says.

JAMES HORLER (29)

GENERAL MANAGER, Granada Motorway Service Areas, Frankley, Birmingham

As well as running Granada's second-largest motorway service area in the country with 250 staff and a turnover of Áº21m, James Horler's commitment and ability have led him into leading project groups to develop company-wide policies and initiatives. He has carried out a complete review of Granada Lodges, and has worked for eight months on the Granada Card loyalty scheme, which is being launched this month.

Horler realises the importance of encouraging young people and has been instrumental in establishing the first public restaurant within a school in the UK - at nearby Windsor School in Halesowen. "This has created a lot of publicity and enormously raised the profile of motorway service areas, an area of the industry which generally doesn't have a good name," he says. Horler was poached by Granada in December 1992, having previously been the youngest regional director of Little Chef, at the age of 23, with responsibility for 24 units. Prior to that he had worked as a management trainee with Forte Hotels, and then as assistant manager in three Forte hotels around the country.

TAM KELLY (25)

AREA OPERATIONS SUPERVISOR, McDonald's

After leaving his job as an aircraft engineer with the Royal Navy, Tam Kelly decided to pursue a career in retail management. In August 1990 he joined McDonald's as a trainee manager and worked as second assistant and then as first assistant, during which time he was given full responsibility to open the company's flagship restaurant in Leicester Square, London, which has since gone on to become the busiest McDonald's in the UK.

Just 13 months after joining the company, Kelly was appointed restaurant manager of the Tower Hill restaurant in London. Such rapid success represents the fastest track promotion to restaurant manager that McDonald's has ever experienced. Kelly immediately set himself the goal of reaching area supervisor within two years, an ambition he successfully fulfilled by the age of 25. He currently supervises four restaurants in south London and is responsible for net sales of Áº5.8m a year as well as 300 staff. In the future Kelly may consider running a McDonald's unit as a franchisee.

TRACEY KITCHENER (29)

GENERAL MANAGER, TGI Friday's, Fareham, Hampshire

Tracey Kitchener was appointed the first female general manager at the 13-strong TGI Friday's group six months ago, after working her way up from trainee manager since joining the company in June 1990. She initially entered the industry to go into hotel management, but quickly decided that she wanted to move into restaurants that offered a younger and faster pace of service than traditional operations.

Prior to joining TGI Friday's, she worked as general manager of the Boddington's-owned Henry's Table in Southport, Merseyside. In her time at TGI Friday's she has worked as a trainee manager in Birmingham, service manager in Manchester, and senior service manager at the Haymarket unit in London.

Since her appointment at Fareham she and her team of 86 staff have increased sales from 2.6% to 6.9% ahead of target. She also achieved record profitability for the Fareham operation last December, breaking the weekly sales record which was set three-and-a-half years ago. "The industry offers quick rewards for young people who are prepared to put in the effort," she says.

SUNIL LIMBACHIA (26)

GROUP FINANCE MANAGER, Compass Services

With his background as administration manager and then regional accountant with Quadrant, the catering arm of the Post Office, Sunil Limbachia had sound experience to draw on when he joined Compass two years ago.

As group finance manager for Morgan Stanley at Canary Wharf - one of Compass's largest and most prestigious contracts serving 1,600 lunches a day - he has helped transform the company's financial reporting to the client. He helps to develop catering managers into business managers, making them more aware of the importance of procedures, computer systems and financial accountability.

Limbachia also assists on sales presentations to potential clients, has created bespoke systems and procedures for other Compass contracts, and has been instrumental in Compass's recent success in gaining BS5750 certification at its Morgan Stanley site. "Jobs like mine will become more prominent as other contract catering companies realise the value of upgrading the role of their catering managers," he says.

GERARD LOUGHRAN (22)

OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, PrÁ t Á Manager

Gerard Loughran arrived in the UK from Ireland four years ago, and joined PrÁ t Á Manger as a sandwich maker to fill in time before going to university to study property investment and finance. His rapid success with the company - he was managing a shop within six months - resulted in him deferring his university place.

With a successful shop behind him, he was promoted in 1992 to develop an operations department to implement a quality control system for use throughout the company. Since then he has drawn up guidelines on running franchise units, developed the PrÁ t Á Manger manual on pay, team structure and quality control, and set up a team of five operations managers who in turn oversee the work of 240 staff in 20 sandwich shops throughout London.

Loughran puts his success in this rapidly expanding company, which presently sells 20,000 sandwiches a day and plans to have 34 shops by the end of the year, down to his own determination combined with support from young, dynamic directors.

"It is vital to be positive in the development of young people in this industry - by offering them support, incentives and fun," says Loughran.

JACKLYN McFADDEN (29)

DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, Stakis Hotels

Jacklyn McFadden has been with Stakis for nearly two years, during which time the company has been transformed from a position of near disaster to its current situation of profit, with occupancy levels up by more than 10% and yield per available room up by 5%.

A graduate of Cornell University in the USA, McFadden arrived in England in October 1989 to join Hilton International with experience as an operations analyst and director of front office operations at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York. She spent two-and-a-half years with Hilton as director of development, evaluating new projects and reviewing designs for new properties.

As director of business development she has been involved in training general managers and front office managers of 32 Stakis hotels on yield management to create a greater awareness of the profitability of the rooms division. As a result, front office managers are now given total responsibility for room revenues and the profile of the rooms division has increased. She has also planned and opened a central reservations office in Aviemore, as well as implemented a staff incentive programme. "I still have much more work to do with the front office, in particular in promoting Stakis to the big booking agents," she says.

SIMON MELROSE (29)

CAPTAIN, Royal Logistic Corps

Simon Melrose has just returned from former Yugoslavia, where he spent six months overseeing the catering operation for 3,500 British soldiers in 18 locations, split between Croatia and Bosnia. While some of the kitchens were purpose-built, others were pre-fabricated or set up in the field. "Being the middle of winter, we had some problems with rations getting through and equipment freezing up, but overall I managed to keep my sense of humour and morale was generally very good," he says.

Melrose joined the army at the age of 20, having previously worked as a sous chef at a restaurant in Germany. Within three years he was promoted to captain and was area catering officer in Larkhill, Wiltshire, looking after 22 kitchens - ranging from staff canteens up to VIP officer messes. Melrose will soon start a new two-year posting in Salisbury, Wiltshire, as project officer contracting out various military jobs to civilian agencies.

MICHAEL PURTILL (27)

PERSONNEL & TRAINING MANAGER, Chewton Glen Hotel, New Milton, Hampshire

Having worked his way around all the major departments of one of Britain's most prestigious country house hotels, Michael Purtill is nearly ready to move into general management. He has worked at Chewton Glen since graduating from what is now Bournemouth University with a BSc degree in catering administration. Initially, Purtill intended to take a business studies degree, but switched to catering after completing work experience at a hotel in Switzerland.

After working part-time as a commis waiter and barman at Chewton Glen, Purtill was appointed management trainee and in October 1990 was promoted to senior receptionist. He went on to become night manager and then assistant manager, during which time he planned and implemented the integration of the hotel's computer systems.

Now as personnel and training manager, Purtill has complete responsibility for recruiting, selecting, inducing, training, counselling and appraising the hotel's 140 staff. He also administers the staff pool for the 23 Relais & ChÆ'teaux establishments in the UK. Purtill imparts his tremendous enthusiasm for the industry to groups of students from local colleges who visit Chewton Glen every month. "Hopefully I help to dispel some of the misconceptions about the industry and get across to them what a hugely rewarding career this can be," he says.

COLIN RIDDELL (29)

CAPTAIN, Royal Logistic Corps

Colin Riddell was studying for a degree in catering systems at Sheffield Hallam University when he decided to pursue a career in the army. "Having considered hotel work, I felt the army would be more of a challenge and would very quickly provide me with a certain amount of responsibility," he says.

Indeed, three years after joining up, Riddell was posted to Germany as a brigade catering officer, managing barracks and field catering for 3,500 troops in six major units. The job, which gave him responsibility for 100 staff, is roughly equivalent to that of area manager within a civilian company. Last year, he spent six months in former Yugoslavia, a posting he regards as the major achievement of his career to date. He was responsible for feeding 2,500 British servicemen, split between seven locations, as well as being financially accountable for the entire catering operation.

"Food, together with letters from home, is the major morale boost to soldiers on active duty and it was good to know that they put on weight while I was there," he says. Ridell is flying out to Hong Kong at the end of the month to commence a two-year tour as adjutant of the Royal Logistic Corps. Although the job, which will put him in charge of all discipline and personnel matters for 1,000 soldiers, will temporarily take him away from catering, he intends to return to it later.

GAVIN STEPHENSON (28)

EXECUTIVE SOUS CHEF, the Regent, London

Following an apprenticeship at the Savoy Group's Berkeley Hotel in London, Gavin Stephenson spent the next eight years of his career in the USA with the Four Seasons hotel group. During this time he worked in Seattle, San Francisco and Boston, an experience which he claims had a major impact on his creativity as a chef.

"As well as working on both the east and west coasts, I also worked with up to 12 nationalities at a time which had a significant effect on my cooking style," he says. His last job in the USA was as restaurant chef of the Georgian Room restaurant at the Four Seasons, Seattle. He returned to London in April 1993 as executive sous chef for the opening of the Regent, and since then has spent seven months as acting head chef, responsible for a 48-strong brigade, two restaurants, a pub, and banqueting for up to 1,000 covers a day. He sees his future within Four Seasons - maybe within a hotel in the USA or Asia.

ALEXANDRA TOWNEND (26)

DIRECTOR, Willerby Manor Hotel, Willerby, North Humberside

Despite the recession, Alexandra Townend has been instrumental in turning around the fortunes of Willerby Manor Hotel, overseeing the completion of two major building projects and taking the business from a loss-making situation into profit, since taking over as director in December 1991.

Townend started her career as a trainee chef at the Boulestin restaurant, London, while she was studying at Westminster College. Although she loves the food side of the business (and continues to give a hand in the kitchens at Willerby Manor), she wanted to be involved in much more than just the kitchen. In 1989 she became assistant to the directors of Gerald Milsom's Le Talbooth restaurant in Dedham, Essex, learning all aspects of the restaurant business from a service and administration point of view. She then moved on to the company's Dedham Vale Hotel as assistant manager, before returning to the 32-bedroom Willerby Manor, owned by her father.

LAURA TUBBRITT (23)

RESTAURANT MANAGER, Café Rouge, Hampstead

Coming from a family of chefs and hotel managers, it was perhaps inevitable that Laura Tubbritt's career would be in catering. She began in her native Ireland, working in a kitchen, and came to England as chef de partie at Café Rouge, Hampstead. Her questioning nature and ambition quickly won her a place on the company's fast track management trainee programme and in October 1991 she was appointed assistant manager. A year later, at the age of 22, she was promoted to restaurant manager.

Since then, Tubbritt has succeeded in increasing sales every month at the 45-cover restaurant, and is now consistently turning over Áº12,000 per week gross. Her skills are evident in motivating and developing her 19 staff, which has ensured the restaurant has one of the lowest staff turnovers in the Pelican Group, which owns the 17-strong Café Rouge chain.

As well as studying part-time for an HCIMA certificate at Westminster College, Tubbritt is being developed as a senior manager - an area manager-type position, where she will trouble-shoot for potential weak spots within the chain.

DAVID TYLER (28)

PURCHASING SERVICES MANAGER, Forte Purchasing and Supply, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

David Tyler has come a long way in a short time. He began his career as a waiter at the age of 16 and by 21 had been appointed general manager of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne, Powys, becoming Forte Hotel's youngest-ever general manager.

He successfully turned around the hotel's fortunes and as a result was enticed to move into hotel development at Forte's head office. As projects manager, Tyler was responsible for heading the building and refurbishment of 120 hotels throughout the UK, including the Áº20m, 258-bedroom extension at the Excelsior Hotel, Heathrow. In January 1993 he was appointed purchasing services manager and is now responsible for buying all non-food products for Forte worldwide.

A recent success has been his complete review of hygiene tissue purchases which has resulted in a saving for Forte of 30%, some Áº500,000. In the future he would like to take his skills back into a senior operations role within the company. Having no formal management training himself, he believes that young people can be a success in the industry by: "getting in at a basic level, working hard and learning all the fundamental rules and discipline." o

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