The Acorns 2004

27 July 2004 by
The Acorns 2004

Every year Caterer & Hotelkeeper presents an Acorn Award to 30 members of our industry aged under 30, who are considered to be stars today and, as the name suggests, leaders of the future. The magazine also organises a weekend away for the winners to receive their awards, meet one another and forge industry contacts in a relaxed environment. This year, on the 18 and 19 April, we went to the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa at St Andrews in Scotland.

Fortunately for most of those involved we were not expected to hack our way round a full 18 holes (not, of course, that they'd let us). But we did have a fine view from the hotel of the renowned 17th, the Road Hole, and later we were given a chance to embarrass ourselves on the practice chipping green.

That was all part of Sunday's competition activities, when the winners, along with several Caterer staff, were divided into six teams to slug it out over a range of tasks (well done, Team B). Challenges included shooting, fire-making and, er… sheep judging.

Monday saw everyone recover from the previous night's Scottish hospitality and get ready for the presentation ceremony and lunch.

Our panel of nine judges were faced with more nominations than ever back in February, when they met to pick the 30 Acorns.

Caterer Group Editor Forbes Mutch chaired the judges, who were: Peter Barrett, divisional director of Foodservices for Debenhams; Michael Caines, managing director of Michael Caines Restaurants; Phil Hooper, marketing and communications director of Sodexho; Bob Ivell; Tony Jackson, head of food operations, Macdonalds Hotels; Mark Kirby, front office manager, the Landmark Hotel; Richard O'Keefe, managing director of frozen division, 3663; Jonathan Stapleton, general manager, Old Course Hotel; Calum Ross, managing director of award sponsors UBF Foodsolutions.

The job was agonised and argued over but finally finished, and over the next few pages we present the 11 women and 19 men who have won the 2004 Acorn Awards.

UBF foodsolutions
UBF Foodsolutions, the food service division of Unilever Bestfoods, is a major global business with some of the best-known brands in the food service industry, including Knorr, Hellmann's, Marmite, Flora and PG Tips. The Unilever group in its entirety has more than 247,000 employees, in more than 100 countries.

Unilever is consistently ranked among the world's most admired employers and investment in people is at the heart of our management principles. Experience and maturity are highly valued, but our organisation recognises that these qualities can be found in young people at the early stages of their careers, as well as in older professionals.

UBF Foodsolutions is an organisation that encourages excellence, whatever the age of the individual, which is why our sponsorship of the Acorn Awards over the past 18 years has remained so appropriate. We too believe in recognising and rewarding energy and passion and encouraging young people to strive for greater heights.

This year's Acorn winners are once again of an exceptionally high calibre. They have already achieved success in their chosen careers and promise even greater things in the future. We are delighted to be associated with an award scheme that helps them on this path.

Calum Ross
Managing Director
UBF Foodsolutions, Unilever Bestfoods UK

Gareth Banner
Age: 27
Place of work: Cardiff Marriott Hotel
Job title: Operations manager
Job description: Responsible for the day-to-day running of a 182-bedroom, £8m-a-year business. Accountable for managing operational departmental team leaders.
Nominated by: Derek Harvey, general manager, Cardiff Marriott Hotel; Alan Parker, managing director, Whitbread Hotel Company.
Reason for award: "Gareth has shown outstanding talent, professionalism and commitment in his role as operations manager. He demonstrates excellent leadership and customer-relations skills and has achieved outstanding results." Derek Harvey
Most embarrassing work moment? I was featured in the pre-opening PR campaign for the London Marriott Kensington last year, which involved having some pictures taken. These were displayed all over the London Underground. I was approached by an American tourist who recognised me from the advert and started shouting "it's him, it's him" in the middle of rush hour.
Who is your industry superhero? Robin Hutson. Have you ever seen a more satisfied hotelier?
What's your dream job? To be a general manager of a London hotel that is regarded as an institution.
What one thing would you change about the industry? I am passionate about promoting the hospitality industry as a serious career path, not only for those leaving education but for those already in employment as well.
How do you unwind? I always make the most of my holidays and take time to relax.
Sum yourself up in a sentence? "Everything or nothing…"

Lisa Beaumont
Age: 28
Place of work: McDonald's Restaurants, European headquarters, East Finchley, London
Job title: Operations consultant
Job description: Responsible for developing and motivating eight restaurant management teams to achieve maximum sales results and optimum profits.
Nominated by: Ken Davies, operations manager at McDonald's.
Reason for award: "Throughout Lisa's career with McDonald's Restaurants she has helped with the development of many managers. Her dedication, drive and commitment have always been second to none, and the enthusiasm she still displays towards each and every challenge would be worth a fortune if it could be bottled up and sold. She truly has "the shadow of a leader". Ken Davies
What's your dream job: David Beckham's personal assistant (especially at the moment).
How do you think the hospitality industry will change during your career: It will become more and more competitive, not only in choice for the customer but also in choice for the employee.
What's the best thing about your job: Practically being my own boss. The job has an incredible amount of autonomy and so my day-to-day actions are always geared to driving my stores forward.
How do you unwind: A glass of wine and a DVD.

Nicola Carter
Age: 29
Place of work:
Job title: Sales and marketing controller
Job description: Responsible for promoting the mymarket concept to the catering industry, registering caterers to purchase from a range of suppliers online via
Nominated by: Liam Taylor, commercial director,
Reason for award: Dedication, commitment and success in growing the mymarket business through sales and marketing role, as well as commercially.
Who is your industry superhero? Jamie Oliver. He's such an inspiration and a real pioneer.
What's your dream job? I have always fancied being an artist, as I am constantly around creative people.
How do you think the hospitality industry will change during your career? Technology will definitely play a greater role in the hospitality industry, helping chefs to run their businesses, manage their time effectively and source new products and menu ideas.
What's the best thing about your job? Feeling that you are creating something new and exciting that can really change the way the hospitality industry operates.
How would you solve the skills shortage? I would invest more time and money into the higher education system.
How do you unwind? Food and travel are my two favourite distractions. I'm hoping to combine the two on my next trip to Thailand.
Sum yourself up in a sentence? I'm a fun and ambitious individual with a clear vision of how I want to achieve professional goals, as well as personal aims.

Andy Chappell
Age: 29
Job: Operations manager for Compass Group at the Royal Bank of Scotland. Responsible for 20 sites.
Nominated by: Keith Weston, Eurest operations director
Reason for award: "Significant growth as an individual during the last year. Andy has taken the units to a new level while continually developing services." Keith Weston
Most embarrassing work moment? Being taught how to do the Highland fling at a colleague's Christmas party and not really grasping how to do it. Unfortunately I was then the compere's target for the rest of the evening, being continually reminded of my non-existent dancing skills.
What do you like most about the industry? I'm a real "people person" and it's this interaction with both clients and managers that I really enjoy.
How do you think the hospitality industry will change during your career? I believe that all big employers will use staff catering as a recruitment and retention tool to attract staff, as unemployment continues to fall.
What one thing would you change about the industry? Increase salary scales for lower-end staff.
What's the best thing about your job? Client partnerships and getting satisfaction from meeting their requirements.
How do you unwind? Usually around the golf course or with a nice bottle of Australian Shiraz.
Sum yourself up in a sentence: Works hard, plays hard.

Emma Corlett
Age: 29
Place of work: Four Seasons Hotel London
Job title: Director of human resources
Job description: The welfare, training and development, recruitment and retention of our 300 extraordinary colleagues.
Nominated by: John Stauss, regional vice-president and general manager.
Reason for award: "Within a global hotel company such as Four Seasons, it is truly exceptional for an under-30 to reach an executive level position. That Emma has done so is a reflection of her maturity and abilities. Emma brings great skill and dedication to her position and is respected by the whole team here; her decision-making ability as well as her motivational qualities and sense of humour are valued." John Stauss
Most embarrassing work moment? When I saw Pierce Brosnan having afternoon tea at Brown's hotel. Brosnan is my favourite Bond and I was so overwhelmed to see him that I froze on the spot. A colleague had to gently remove me from the area - I was totally transfixed. How embarrassing!
What do you like most about the industry? The people.
What's your dream job? To own a bookshop with my sister, Lucy, somewhere in Kew Gardens, near where we live. She would take care of the books and I would look after the coffee and cakes - home-made of course!
How do you think the hospitality industry will change during your career? I think that the industry naturally lends itself to flexible working practices. As family-friendly policies are taken on board, we will really start to move forward in this area.
How do you unwind? With friends and family… and a gin and tonic.

William Dallas

Age: 25
Place of work: The Landmark, London
Job title: Winter Garden restaurant manager
Job description: Day-to-day and forward management of the restaurant operation and development of the business, staff and restaurant concept.
Nominated by: Francis Green, general manager; Mark Kirby, front office manager
Reason for award: Recognition of my achievements in the industry and my ambitious outlook for the future.
Most embarrassing work moment: Singeing my eyebrows and hair while preparing crépe suzette gu‚ridon style.
What do you like most about the industry? The opportunity to delight customers with the provision of high-quality products in a professional manner.
Who is your industry superhero? Mark Nolan, general manager, Dromoland Castle Hotel and Country Estate. I aspired to his energy, professionalism and enthusiasm from an early age.
What's your dream job: Global chief executive of an international luxury hotel group.
How do you think the hospitality industry will change throughout your career? It will be increasingly competitive, with customers becoming more discerning and demanding.
What one thing would you change about the industry? Increase the number of Irish and UK nationals pursuing careers in this sector.
What's the best thing about your job? The variety each day holds and working with a management team who also serve as mentors and advisers.
How do you unwind? Gym, golf, reading, movies and socialising.
Sum yourself up in one sentence: Bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Sue Ellis
Age: 24
Place of work: Belle House, Pershore
Job title: Sous chef
Job description: As sous chef, Sue runs all corners of the kitchen, planning menus, sourcing suppliers and ingredients, training staff in the kitchen and liaising with customers.
Nominated by: Steve Waites, head chef, Bell House
Reason for award: "Sue has bought energy and enthusiasm to the business as if it were her own. She is a first-class chef and maintains close ties with local colleges and schools." Steve Waites
Most embarrassing work moment: Turning up an hour late for the start of the Midlands Association of Chefs 2001 Young Chef competition and seeing everybody waiting with their arms crossed, including judge John Burton-Race. But I still won.
Who is your industry superhero? Thomas Kelly. I did a stage at the French Laundry and the whole concept and theory of cooking was totally different from anything I had seen before.
What's the one thing you would change about the industry? Get rid of all the cowboys!
How would you solve the skills shortage? Take time, effort and be enthusiastic with your commis chefs. Teach them the basics and don't just stand them in the corner picking 20 bags of spinach.
How do you unwind? Hot bath and a glass of wine.
Sum yourself up in a sentence: I'm competitive, a happy team player, patient, enthusiastic and dedicated to cooking honestly.

Bruce Elsworth

Age: 28
Place of work: Angel Inn, Hetton
Job title: Head chef and manager
Job description: Responsible for 10 chefs, five cleaners, purchasing of £275,000 and revenue of £852,000.
Nominated by: Denis Watkins, proprietor
Reason for award: "During his time as head chef, Bruce has increased food sales by £302,600 (55%). His drive, leadership and his excellent management has had a direct effect on the profitability of the whole business." Denis Watkins
Most embarrassing work moment: I remember one fireworks night being put in charge of the pie and pea supper. We had to give everyone their money back.
Who is your industry superhero? Marco Pierre White for White Heat. For a young chef it was very inspiring.
What's the best thing about your job? Total job satisfaction. Working with the raw produce to the finished product.
How would you solve the skills shortage? I would like to see NVQ level 1 or a GCSE in catering as a compulsory subject so kids get a better chance to learn about the trade without having the direct pressure of a trading establishment.
How do you unwind? I run [Bruce is doing marathon]. I also like boxing. Don't now if you call this unwinding, but I am a season ticket holder at Leeds United.

Nick Gabaldon

Age: 24
Job: Sous chef for Baxter & Platts at GlaxoSmithKline, GSK House, Brentford, London
Nominated by: Noel Mahony, managing director, Baxter & Platts
Reason for award: "In less than a year, Nick has demonstrated that he is a rising star on the Compass Group Culinary Team. He was chosen to represent the company at Hotelympia this year. Despite a demanding work schedule, he continues to develop himself in his own time by organising placements at prestigious restaurant and hotel kitchens all over England." Noel Mahony
Embarrassing work moment? I was working at the Scottsdale Prince Resort the summer before college. I had bought a cheap set of knives to get by with because I knew I was going to be issued knives at college. Every morning the first job was to peel fruits for the buffet display. I was having difficulties peeling unripe melons with my cheap, bendy knife. One of the senior chefs sent over Big Martha to sort me out. Big Martha was the toughest and hardest old lady you ever laid eyes on. She grabbed my knife broke it in two, threw it in the bin and said "Rookie, go back to home economics class, you're wasting my time!" The kitchen brigade burst out laughing. When I graduated from culinary school, I worked at another US resort. I had a similar experience, but now I was in Martha's role. A British student named Claire was assigned to my kitchen. She arrived with a cheap set of knives, just like me. Instead of repeating history, I had a quiet chuckle to myself, lent her one of my knives… and ended up marrying her a year later!
What's your dream job? To host my own music cooking show "Beats & Eats". It would be a talk show based on food and music where musicians cooked their favourite dishes and talked about their latest album.
What one thing would you change about the industry? I would like to change the angry, aggressive, bad-tempered chef stereotype. I have worked for ill-tempered chefs who verbally and physically abuse their staff. This type of behaviour has no place in our industry, nor is it tolerated in any other industry.
How do you unwind? I practice Reiki and Buddhist meditations, hiking, and tending to my herb and rose garden.
Sum yourself up in one sentence: The iron chef from the desert mountain with green fingers and a big heart.

Sarah Glyde
Age: 29
Place of work: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
Job title: Director of luxury sales
Job description: I am responsible for the sales and marketing of the Luxury Collection to the UK & Ireland market. The Luxury Collection is an assembly of the finest hotels and resorts by Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
Nominated by: Michael P Wale, senior vice-president, area director north-west Europe, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
Reason for award: My high levels of commitment to customers; being able to communicate with people at all levels; successful sales and marketing results and my dedication to the industry as a whole.
What do you like most about the industry? The ability to make people's dreams come true.
Who is your industry superhero? I do not have a hospitality industry superhero, but I do have a few heroes. The chairman and chief executive officer of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide - Barry Sternlicht. I am not sucking up, but in six years he has created one of the top hotel brands in the world! And Jamie Oliver, for helping to improve the image of being a chef - he makes it look fun and attractive. With luck we will have lots more "pukka" chefs as a result.
What's your dream job? I love my current job, but if I could do anything and money wasn't an issue, then I would like to be a photographer, specifically of hotels and resorts - I want to help them create the image! I often see photos of resorts and think, why did they take that photo? What does it say about the resort?
How would you solve the skills shortage? Create dedicated career paths in manual and technical disciplines. Ensure remuneration is more indicative of the work demands - especially for operational team members.
How do you unwind? I play golf, go on sunshine holidays (I hate the cold weather!), run (currently training for the New York marathon), go to the cinema and I love to eat out with friends.
Sum yourself up in a sentence: Charismatic, dynamic and beguiling, while still being down to earth and level headed. (I had to ask someone else what they thought, as my sentence was very short!)

Gina Gorvett
Age: 27
Job: Nutritionist for Scolarest
Nominated by: Tony Sanders, education director, Compass Group.
Reason for award: "Gina has made an enormous contribution in all areas of nutrition across the company. She put in place a new costing and nutritional analysis system, removed all salt from the company's recipes, and persuaded suppliers to reduce salt content in their products. Over and above her job description, Gina regularly supports head teacher and governor meetings, has one-to-one discussions with parents, and gives support and advice to other Compass divisions, particularly the development of nutritional menus for the Ministry of Defence." Tony Sanders
What's the best thing about your job? Feeling that I can help make a difference to the health of the nation's children.
What's your dream job? To be a nutritionist for the Ferrari Formula One team - or any Formula One team, come to think of it!
How do you unwind? Is a nutritionist allowed to say that red wine and chocolate help?

Kirstie Groves
Age: 29
Job title: Human resources manager, All Leisure, Compass Group
Nominated by: Vicky Williams, HR director, All Leisure
Reason for award: "Kirstie has risen from a staffing manager position to a fully qualified HR manager in just three years. She has developed and piloted a formal graduate training scheme, set up a strategy to retain regular casual workers and reduce the use of agency staff and agency costs." Vicky Williams
Who is your industry superhero? Jamie Oliver helped change the perception of the industry to school- and college-leavers. He showed that a caterer's life is hard work - which we know - but also fun and trendy.
What's the best thing about your job? Being able to work at some of the most exciting sporting events, soaking up the atmosphere at the FA Cup final, or at Twickenham for the Six Nations.
How do you think the hospitality industry will change during your career? The labour market will change with the expansion of the European Union. Work-life balance will become more important. The industry cannot continue to "burn out" a talented young workforce.
How would you solve the skills shortage? Change the perception of the catering industry to graduates and school-leavers. Second, I would increase the levels of English and customer-service skills taught to overseas workers.
How do you unwind? Gym, aerobics, a very understanding boyfriend, great friends and a bottle of Rioja.
Sum yourself up in a sentence: A naturally outgoing, enthusiastic and communicative individual who is extremely patient, loyal and logical.

Paul Harnedy

Age: 29
Place of work: City Inn Contemporary Hotels Birmingham
Job title: General manager
Job description: To be responsible to the director of operations for the day-to-day running of City Inn Birmingham and position its City Caf‚ as a destination restaurant. Ensure the operation of the hotel is consistent with the targets set for guest feedback - 98% of guests, when asked, would return.
Nominated by: Michael North - director of operations
Reason for award: "Paul has the energy and drive to oversee and implement the demanding expectations of the City Inn board. He has created an exciting, relevant trading plan involving the whole team, including service and operating standards, and produced exceptional business growth across the board." Michael North
Most embarrassing work moment: While toast-mastering two weddings on the same day I got the bride's and groom's names mixed up throughout. It was only during the evening, following the speeches, that they told me what I had done.
Who is your industry superhero? My first general manager, Peter Dann. If it were not for him I wouldn't even be in the industry!
How do you think the hospitality industry will change during your career? We need to be inventive in the way we deliver service and be aware of cost-cutting and the impact this has on the guest. Always challenge the way we do things and be aware that guests' expectations are rising.
How would you solve the skills shortage? Ensure that as employers we recruit on personality and we have training and development budgets that are deployed effectively. We need to work more in association with education so that a career in our industry is in the minds of 11-year-olds onwards.
How do you unwind? By visiting good restaurants and sampling great food wines and service. And spending time with my four-year-old daughter.
Sum yourself up in a sentence? Professional, passionate and committed but a little bit mad!

Greg Hegarty

Age: 26
Place of work: Thistle Brighton Hotel
Job title: Hotel manager
Job description: Overall responsibility for sales, profitability and day-to-day duties in a 208-bedroom hotel.
Nominated by: Simon Quarrell, area general manager south
Reason for award: "Greg is an excellent example of a highly self-motivated individual who is both respected by his peers and a true asset to Thistle Hotels. Greg has a passion for the hotel industry and is totally committed, dedicating his time to ensuring that continual improvements are made in all areas of our business." Simon Quarrell
Who is your industry superhero? Howard Schultz of Starbucks - for his vision, and for not giving up when faced with challenges. He always found a way to make his dream come true, while never forgetting his family for giving him the drive and determination to make him who he is today.
What one thing would you change about the industry? Use technology to improve the efficiency of our current front-desk processes to allow our staff to become more customer-focused.
What's the best thing about your job? Seeing the results and measuring the impact I am having on the business - sales, service and people. Also, knowing that my family has got me where I am today.
Sum yourself up in a sentence? I am a determined individual who is passionate about my work, focused on success, achievements and job satisfaction.

Tim Lucas
Age: 25
Job: Marketing executive at Sodexho
Nominated by: Jonathan Wilde, group marketing manager
Reason for award: "Tim has demonstrated innovative project management skills and a strong ability to build relationships across all levels."Jonathan Wilde
What do you like most about the industry? The rapid pace that keeps you on your toes. Every day is different, as are the people.
What's you dream job? A senior position within international events management. I have always had a keen interest in events and eventually see myself organising and managing major events, conferences, exhibitions, and product launches, possibly owning my own events management company one day.
How do you think the hospitality industry will change during your career? Customer expectations and choices are continually increasing. The challenge is to adapt and innovate to meet their needs.
What's the best thing about your job? Definitely the team I work with. You've got to have a good team around you.
How do you unwind? A cold beer after work always goes down well. I also enjoy keeping fit and regularly go to the gym.
Sum yourself up in a sentence: I am a self-motivated team-player who thrives on new challenges.

Matthew Mager

Age: 26
Place of work: Bluebird, Chelsea
Job title: Assistant restaurant manager
Job description: To assist the restaurant manager (Philippe Billat) to reach organisational, strategic and financial goals.
Nominated by: Chris Miller, Bluebird general manager
Reason for award: In 18 months of employment at Bluebird, I have been promoted twice and still want to progress further. I hope I demonstrate great passion and interest in the restaurant's operations and the performance and development of employees.
Most embarrassing work moment: The time when magnum of Champagne exploded in my face during service.
What do you like most about the industry? The diversity of clientele, employees and concepts within the industry.
Who is your industry superhero? Bill Marriott: he encapsulates a passion and desire to provide a high level of customer service.
What's your dream job? To work in a consultative role that allows me to develop those working in the industry and those educating the industry's future leaders.
How do you think the hospitality industry will change during your career? Hospitality firms will need to manage the blend of commerce and hospitality more effectively.
What's the best thing about your job? The buzz of a bustling restaurant and bar.
How would you solve the skills shortage? Tighten the relationship between hospitality educators and the industry; ensure that industry-related vocational education remains relevant and broaden the scope of student placements.
How do you unwind? Spending time with my girlfriend and eating out.
Sum yourself up in a sentence: An ardent, gregarious and compassionate person fascinated and motivated by people and cultures.

Loic Maillet

Age: 29
Place of work: Aurora, London
Job title: Head sommelier
Job description: Has to meet an annual beverage revenue budget of £750,000, manage a team of five sommeliers, as well as £75,000 of stock in the cellar and buy for a wine list of 700 bins.
Nominated by: Nicholas Rettie
Reason for award: "Loic has an encyclopaedic knowledge of wine, and he displays a remarkable gift for subtly establishing the price range the customer is seeking. Last year he won the Ruinart Sommelier of the Year competition." Nicholas Rettie
Most embarrassing work moment: Crashing the entire Micros system for a day.
What do you like most about the industry? The people you meet, the quality of products you look after, the buzz.
Who is your industry superhero? Gerard Basset, the wine man of Hotel du Vin.
What's your dream job? Having a successful vineyard, wine bar or restaurant, somewhere in the sun - or, better, all of them in the Mediterranean sun.
How would you solve the skills shortage? Create proper catering schools like in Italy or in France and make young people understand that the catering industry is not just about earning pocket money. Or what about cloning?
How do you unwind? Around a table with friends, good food and a few bottles of wine.
Sum yourself up in a sentence: Passionate, unpretentious, a bit crazy, and hugely disorganised.

Nicola Monks

Age: 24
Place of work: Gordon Ramsay Holdings
Job title: Private dining manager
Job description: Responsible for private dining, exclusive uses and chef's tables at each restaurant.
Nominated by: Gordon Ramsay
Reason for award: Joined as a graduate with limited knowledge of the hospitality sector. Through commitment, good communication and hard work, progressed to the position of private dining manager.
Most embarrassing work moment: Ringing Gordon in the middle of a busy lunch service to ask for a menu recommendation for a vegetarian guest - you can imagine how impressed he was!
What do you like most about the industry? It constantly changes
Who is your industry superhero? Gordon Ramsay. His drive and enthusiasm is contagious.
What's your dream job: Travel writer
How do you think the hospitality industry will change during your career? We will be able to encourage more people into the industry by demonstrating how great the opportunities are, thus creating a larger pool of talent and raising standards.
What one thing would you change about the industry? The overall image. We need to move away from the "long hours, low pay" image and promote it as a serious career with positive job prospects.
What's the best thing about your job? Working with some of the most professional people in the industry.
How would you solve the skills shortage? Through initiatives such as the Gordon Ramsay Scholarship, giving young people the opportunity to learn from some of the leading professionals in the industry.
How do you unwind? Dance classes, training for the Nike 10k.
Sum yourself up in a sentence: Hard-working with a positive and friendly "can do" attitude.

Markus Nasholm
Age: 28
Place of work: Oriel Leisure
Job title: Financial controller
Job description: From preparing budgets and compilation of monthly management accounts to finance training for the hotel staff that work with accounts and business plans for new projects.
Nominated by: Richard McKevitt, chief operating officer, Oriel Leisure
Reason for award: Demonstration of a continuous and progressive career path within the hotel industry since graduating with a best student award and first-class honours from Oxford Brookes University.
What do you like most about the industry? The buzz of the industry, and that no two days are the same.
Who is your industry superhero? Simon Woodroffe, Yo! Concepts.
What's the best thing about your job? If you want to try to change something it is always welcome.
How would you solve the skills shortage? By providing better information in schools.
How do you unwind? Kickboxing, fitness training.
Sum yourself up in a sentence? Enthusiastic, energetic and party…

Ross Pike
Age: 26
Place of work: Slaughter and May
Job title: Executive head chef
Job description: Overseeing 16 chefs in three different kitchens.
Nominated by: William Baxter (Baxtersmith)
Reason for award: "Always pushing the limits and trying to change people's preconceived ideas of contract catering." William Baxter
Most embarrassing work moment: Working in a ski resort when I was very young, I got hammered the night before and forgot about the sorbet. I needed to come up with a plan so opened the chalet window, grabbed some snow, decorated it with strawberry pur‚e and got away with it.
What do you like most about the industry? Working as a team, you are as good as the person next to you.
Who is your industry superhero? Ferran Adri… and Heston Blumenthal.
What's your dream job? To set up a restaurant in London with Ferran Adri….
How do you think the hospitality industry will change during your career? The skill at chef level will bring the industry down.
What one thing would you change about the industry? Bring back apprenticeships.
What's the best thing about your job? I am the boss.
How would you solve the skills shortage? Attract chefs at younger age and give them incentives.
How do you unwind? Jump on my motorbike and hit the open road.
Sum yourself up in a sentence? The gadget man.

John Price

Age: 25
Place of work: Marriott Sprowston Manor Hotel & Country Club
Job title: Operations manager
Job description: Overall running of the hotel operation on a day-to-day basis.
Nominated by: Hayley Chilver (general manager, Courtyard by Marriott, Ipswich)
Reason for award: "John strongly promotes the industry as a great place to work. He is an ambassador for the government-run organisation Springboard UK, and has been working hard to change the unfavourable perception of the industry. John has the ability to make someone feel great." Hayley Chilver
Most embarrassing work moment? Having to ask a couple to keep the noise down!
Who is your industry superhero? Andrew Glover, general manager, Liverpool Mariott Hotel City Centre.
What's your dream job? Stadium manager at Darlington Football Club's brand-new 27,500 all-seater stadium in the Premier League.
How do you think the hospitality industry will change during your career? I think the profile of the industry will soar… and we'll have a lot more Jamie Olivers
What's the best thing about your job? It never gets boring.
How would you solve the skills shortage? By increasing retention within each unit. Allowing us to bring in employees with the right skills - whether they are personal or practical.
How do you unwind? Lager, football and a little squash.
Sum yourself up in a sentence? Good fun and honest.

Darren PurcheseAge: 29
Place of work: Restaurant 1880 at the Bentley, London
Job title: Head pastry chef
Job description: Responsible for food ordering, food costing, staff recruitment and development, devising menus and contributing to staff morale.
Nominated by: Andrew Turner, executive chef
Reason for award
Who is your industry superhero? Andrew Turner and Tony Joseph for the consistently high standards they set themselves and others. I also have a lot of respect for Anton Edelmann and Derek Quelch, the executive chef at the Goring.
How do you think the hospitality industry will change during your career? I think there has already been a shift to better working conditions for employees and I hope this is continued.
What one thing would you change about the industry? Paid overtime!
What's the best thing about your job? Passing on my knowledge and skills.
How would you solve the skills shortage? I would introduce greater industry incentives to encourage more young people to choose a career in hospitality.
Sum yourself up in a sentence: Determined, highly motivated with a good sense of humour. Essential in my chosen vocation.

Cindy Reynolds

Age: 27
Place of work: Savoy Group
Job title: Reservation sales manager
Job description: The role requires sales skill, diplomacy, the ability to train others, a head for numbers and the ability to help and manage other staff.
Nominated by: Alan Palmer, director of reservations at the Savoy Group.
Reason for award: "Cindy is an extremely enthusiastic and committed professional who is a great asset to Claridge's and the Savoy Group." Christopher Cowdray, general manager of Claridge's
Most embarrassing work moment: During my year spent training in the kitchen at Claridge's I fell for the usual kitchen humour by agreeing to go and fetch some tartan food colouring from the pastry kitchen.
What's your dream job? I love to travel, so writer for Condé Nast Traveller would be my dream job.
What's the best thing about your job: Being part of something new and exciting. The Savoy Group was the first five-star hotel group to centralise its reservation platform as an untested, uncharted project.

Danielle Rozema

Age: 30
Place of work: Old Course hotel in St Andrews, Fife
Job title: Food and beverage controller
Job description: Liaising with the executive chef, stocktaking at the hotel's food and beverage outlets, fulfilling duty management roles when required and getting involved in department staff recruitment.
Nominated by: Jonathan Stapleton, general manager of the hotel
Reason for award: "Danielle is willing and dedicated to serving the guests' needs and exceeding their expectations. She puts in the extra effort to get the job done in a professional way." Jonathan Stapleton
Most embarrassing work moment: In my position as Christmas and Millennium co-ordinator at the Savoy hotel I was asked to play Father Christmas. After all the presents were given to the children, I did a last walk-through the restaurant and stopped at a table to talk to guests. It was at this point my trousers started to fall down, and my blushes were only saved by one of the lady guests grabbing them. The sommelier had to step outside as he could not stop laughing.
What's your dream job? Outside the industry I would like to be involved in the theatre, playing a role within West End musicals. Within hospitality, I think the job of an AA inspector or food critic is very interesting.

Samantha Spencer

Age: 25
Place of work: Debenhams Birmingham
Job title: Sales manager foodservices
Job description: Focusing on the team, improving the daily, weekly, and monthly performance of the operation.
Nominated by: Peter Barratt - director foodservices, Debenhams
Reason for award: "A dedicated, conscientious, self-motivated and experienced manager with proven skills and leadership qualities." Peter Barratt
Most embarrassing work moment? Falling over in front of important head office visitor.
What do you like most about the industry? The pace!
What one thing would you change about the industry? People's perception of the industry itself.
What's the best thing about your job? My team!
Sum yourself up in a sentence? Confident, self-motivated, entertaining and chilled out.

David Steel
Age: 28
Place of work: Greens Health & Fitness club in Liverpool, a division of De Vere Hotels & Leisure.
Job title: General manager
Job description: Sales, marketing and management are part of the job, as is making sure the business remains customer focused and delivers the "wow" factor.
Nominated by: Chris Aures, director of operations at De Vere Hotels & Leisure.
Reason for award: "David has worked within the unit to enhance morale and motivation and has managed to reduce staff turnover from 60% in 2001 to 18% in 2003". Chris Aures
What do you like most about the industry? People. I love the interaction, variety and daily challenges. It is an industry where you can really build, grow and develop teams.
Dream job? To be general manager of a large resort hotel in Thailand, the home country of my beautiful wife, Arunothai, and daughter, Emily.
What's the one thing you would change about the industry? I would like to develop and work with a system of putting people in touch with each other. In its simplest form, a website or online business directory, which instead of listing businesses by type, lists employees by their skills and knowledge. This would allow employees to type in work-related questions or to search for any particular skills they might need.
Sum yourself up in a sentence: Motivated, energetic and determined to win.

Graham Usher

Age: 26
Place of work: The Grange Hotel, York
Job title: General manager
Job description: Effective control, leadership and management of the entire business of a 65-strong team and a 30-bedroom, three-AA-red-star hotel.
Nominated by: Jeremy Cassel, managing director, the Grange Hotel
Reason for award: "At such a young age, Graham has managed to achieve extraordinary success. He strives to make the best of his ability. Always wants to achieve more." Jeremy Cassel
What do you like most about the industry? I love to welcome people to my hotel as if it were my house, giving a real personal service to the guests.
What one thing would you change about the industry? Already trying! The ongoing task of recruitment, retention and training is expensive - and time-consuming.
What's the best thing about your job? Being a business manager, personnel manager, sales manager, head chef, head housekeeper, marketing manager, managing director, leader, mentor, motivator and friend all in one day!
How do you unwind? Quality time at home is important. I love to enjoy life with my wife and kids.
Sum yourself up in a sentence? Detailed, self-motivated, enthusiastic, willing… and I love to enjoy my work and help others do the same.

Nick Venables

Age: 23
Place of work: Grosvenor House hotel, Park Lane, London.
Job title: Conference and banqueting manager
Job description: Responsible for the negotiation, planning and execution of a wide range of events within Europe's largest hotel ballroom.
Nominated by: Claire Keene, conference and banqueting director at the hotel.
Reason for award: "Nick is dedicated to the development of junior team members and is always willing to share his knowledge and experience with them to assist with their progression." Claire Keene
Most embarrassing work moment: Courtesy of Jane Cartwright, group projects director at Caterer, my most embarrassing moment was having a picture published in the magazine of me looking like a camp porn-star at a menu tasting for the Cateys.
What's the best thing about your job? The range, volume and profile of events that we are able to do at Grosvenor House, as well as meeting and working with so many different people from all around the globe.

John Welsh

Age: 25
Place of work: The Chester Grosvenor & Grosvenor Spa
Job title: Food and beverage manager
Job description: Directly accountable for all aspects and performance of the food and beverage outlets, namely the Michelin-starred Arkle restaurant, La Brasserie and room service.
Nominated by: Jonathan Slater, managing director
Reason for award: I've always tried to do my best and remained very loyal - not only to the hotel, but the industry as a whole.
Most embarrassing work moment: Take your pick.
What do you like most about the industry? it's so incredibly diverse. Wherever you go people are doing things differently.
Who is your industry superhero? I've been inspired by many people so I've got lots of heroes.
What's your dream job? For a long time it was to get where I am now, so I haven't thought much further than that. I wouldn't mind being a rock star.
How do you think the hospitality industry will change during your career? As customers become more educated, their demands with regards to product and service quality will only increase.
What's the best thing about your job? The fact that I truly enjoy what I do.
How do you unwind? Eating out and socialising with friends.
Sum yourself up in a sentence? I'm passionate, outgoing, enthusiastic and, above all, positive.

Peter Woods

Age: 26
Place of work: Allium, London
Job title: Head chef
Job description: Responsible for the recruitment and training of staff, kitchen organisation, menu development, hygiene and commercial success.
Nominated by: Anton Edelmann and Peter Hazzard
Reason for award: "Peter is a good role-model for students and has been involved recently in taking students to Allium to help develop their skills. With Anton Edelmann, he has also helped set up the Training Academy and launched the restaurant." Peter Hazzard
Most embarrassing work moment: Starting my job at Allium with no hair, after the kitchen brigade at the Belvedere shaved it all off on my last day there.
What do you like most about the industry? The buzz I get from working with great ingredients and the characters you meet along the way.
How do you think the hospitality industry will change during your career? I feel the industry will see a demand for food to be 100% traceable.
What one thing would you change about the industry? A better relationship and understanding towards front-of-house staff from chefs (including me, no one's perfect!) of what they have to put up with from the customers.
What's the best thing about your job? Having a restaurant full of customers who have had a great time and a service that's gone perfectly… true bliss!!
How do you unwind? Deep-sea fishing on my boat on the South Coast with my old man, who is also a chef.
Sum yourself up in a sentence: Ambitious and fun to work with.

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