Jon Reed, bars manager at the Marriott Waltham Abbey hotel in Essex, is this year's Acorn Scholarship winner.
Reed's achievement was announced at a finalists' lunch held last Monday at Gidleigh Park hotel in Devon.
Judge John Price said: "Reed has great vision for the future at a young age. He wants to change things at the highest level, in order to assist him in his role as manager, and to benefit the hotel and the industry at large. All the finalists came up with similar points and problems, but it was Reed who had thought about the situation in great depth, created solutions and begun to carry these out."
The runners-up were Katie Wilson, David Nixon, Eunice Mayeku Wabuge, Ben Webb, Timon Robson, Chris Brumfitt and Sara Bates.
A full report on the presentation lunch and competition winner will appear in Caterer next week.