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Acorn winners 2017: James O’Keeffe

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Acorn winners 2017: James O’Keeffe

Reception manager, Exclusive Hotels and Venues

Nominated by Danny Pecorelli, managing director, Exclusive Hotels and Venues

Proudest moment “Being offered a job at the Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire. I had just finished my course at Westminster Kingsway College and to be offered a job at one of the best restaurants in world was phenomenal. My work ethic and attention to detail are things I pride myself on and they are a direct result of my time spent at the Fat Duck.”

Greatest inspiration “Restaurateur Danny Meyer. I read his seminal book on hospitality, Setting The Table, when I was 19 and it completely changed the way I thought about the industry. At the time, I had just made the decision to pursue front of house as a career as opposed to being a chef and I found it refreshing to see someone create such a successful restaurant empire without coming from a back of house background.”

Ambition “My medium-term goal is to become the general manager of a five-star hotel within the next five years. Longer-term, I’d like to own my own business and create a company that helps to move the industry forward – Exclusive Hotels and Venues is a prime example.”

James O’Keeffe first worked as a kitchen porter in a local restaurant before enrolling on a chef’s course at Westminster Kingsway College, later specialising in restaurant management. On graduation, he was offered a role as a commis waiter at the legendary Fat Duck.

He went on to study international hospitality management at Bournemouth University before becoming the first participant on the Exclusive Hotels and Venues graduate scheme. He spent two years at the five-star Lainston House and, once he’d graduated from the scheme, moved to the Manor House in Castle Combe in his current role as reception manager.

An active supporter of the Edge Hotel School, O’Keeffe recently organised a visit the Manor House for students at Wiltshire College so that they could learn more about the diversity of the operation.

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