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Luigi Cagnin is restaurant manager of the Michelin-starred Ritz restaurant at the Ritz London. He manages a team of 45 in the restaurant, which operates seven days a week, 365 days a year, with daily average covers of 120 for breakfast, 90 for lunch, 40 for pre-theatre supper and 110 for dinner.
Since he became manager in 2013, Cagnin has ensured that the restaurant appeals to new guests while maintaining its attraction to longstanding customers. He has worked closely with the sales and marketing team to introduce the Ritz dining voucher (where guests can purchase a meal as a gift), which has resulted in 11,000 additional covers, £650,000 in additional sales and a 28% increase in repeat customers, equating to 41.5% of total covers.
Last year, the Ritz restaurant won its first Michelin star, reflecting the high and consistent standards of service and cuisine of which executive chef John Williams is responsible.
The restaurant also won the AA Hospitality Awards’ Food Service Award in 2016, it was placed in the Waitrose Good Food Guide 2017 Top 50 and in The Sunday Times UK Top 100 Restaurants.
Cagnin himself won the Master of Culinary Arts in 2013 and the Annual Award of Excellence at the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts in 2006.
He’s come a long way from starting in the industry as a commis chef, and he understands the impact his training had on launching his career. Therefore, Cagnin places an emphasis on education and in recent years the Ritz has achieved the most award winners in the country at the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Annual Awards of Excellence.
Cagnin holds a two-hour training session every Sunday on topics such as product knowledge and new gueridon training. Cagnin has created an induction pack to welcome new starters to the team and to provide details on shift patterns, promotions and menus, including photos and descriptions of all the dishes.
And not only does Cagnin give to his staff, he gives back to the industry in the form of volunteering.
Alongside being an Adopt a School volunteer with the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and a judge for Worldskills 2017, he makes regular visits to Lakefield College in Hampstead, where he lectures students on the career opportunities in the five-star hotel sector and demonstrates service skills. During trips home to Italy, he makes time to visit two hospitality colleges to remind teaching staff and students of the work possibilities in the UK – trips that have generated up to four new recruits a year for the restaurant.
Judges felt that Cagnin’s fantastic achievements over the past 12 months deserved to be recognised with a Hotel Catey award.
What the judges said
“Luigi has had the most amazing year and has achieved so much, whether it is revenue growth, brilliant staff training and development, awards or repeat business. He truly deserves this accolade, not least because he has also found time to give back to the industry.”
“It’s fantastic to see such a list of achievements from someone in such a longstanding position. He has come from the ranks of commis to the top and is a wonderful role model.”
Luigi Cagnin The Ritz London
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