August's Star of the Month is Ernesto Pelligrini, sommelier at Galvin at Windows at the London Hilton on Park Lane. Nominated by restaurant manager Fred Siriex, Pelligrini has been working at the hotel for 38 years and was one of the few staff to remain at Windows after its relaunch last year.
Why did you nominate Ernesto?
Fred Siriex Ernesto has been working at the hotel for almost 40 years. At 64, he is no spring chicken, but regularly works double shifts at the restaurant and is a great example to the whole team for his professionalism, kindness and commitment. He embraced the reopening of the Windows restaurant with enthusiasm and dedication that knew no boundaries. Guests absolutely love him, and every day regulars pop in just to say hello. Ernesto has truly mastered the art of hospitality and as such deserves to be recognised as a master of his craft.
How does it feel to win Star of the Month?
Ernesto Pelligrini It was such a surprise, and I couldn't believe it when I came in to work and they told me I had won this award. I feel on top of the world, and I can't tell you how proud I am to have my work recognised in this way.
Why do you think you were nominated?
EP Things have really changed at Windows since Chris Galvin took over last May, and everyone here is so enthusiastic about their work. Like everyone, I am also really dedicated to the restaurant and I take pride in being welcoming to the guests. I have been working at the hotel for 38 years and have come to know so many regular guests, and a lot of them have become part of the family.
What has been the highlight of your time at the Hilton?
EP The last 18 months since Galvin took over the restaurant have been my highlight. I am not that young any more, and before he joined I felt that my career was heading on a downward spiral. But, since the reopening, things have been going up again for me, and it has just been a pleasure to work with Galvin and his brigade.
What do you love most about your job?
EP I've seen so many people return to the hotel over many years, and it's great to have a real relationship with them and make them feel like they belong here. I've seen kids come to the hotel with their parents and return years later when they've grown up. Guests really appreciate the rapport from me, and it's so rewarding when they remember me after so many years.
What will you do with the money?
EP If my colleagues are up for it, I'd like to take them out one night. I could not do my job without any of them, so it would be a good opportunity to give something back and say thanks.
• To nominate someone for this award visit www.caterersearch.com/starofthemonth