'It still feels like a dream': Jupiter Humphrey-Bishop on winning the 2023 Gold Service Scholarship

31 January 2024

Jupiter Humphrey-Bishop, a footman in the Royal Household, won the 2023 Gold Service Scholarship. She tells The Caterer what the win meant to her and how she progressed through the competition.

As a teenager searching for a work experience placement, Jupiter Humphrey-Bishop sought to learn from the best and secured herself a position at the five-AA-starred Grand hotel in Eastbourne, affectionally known as the White Palace.

Her drive and enthusiasm endured through college and her early career, leading her all the way from the White Palace to Buckingham Palace, where she is now a footman in the Royal Household. That same resolve also saw her win the prestigious Gold Service Scholarship in 2023, at the age of 23.

Winning the competition for young front of house professionals in the UK has since taken Humphrey-Bishop to the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok, Gleneagles hotel in Perthshire and Villa Igiea in Sicily, with a training trip to the EHL Hospitality Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland, planned for later this year.

Humphrey-Bishop's passion for hospitality was ignited during that week's work experience placement at the Grand, when she was 15 years old. She says: "I absolutely loved it and was so surprised that people who were already in the industry were willing to share their knowledge and skills to help somebody else. I found it so inspiring."

Her studies in hospitality and catering at East Sussex College gave her a broad overview of front and back of house and Humphrey-Bishop quickly realised she found customer-facing roles the most rewarding. She says: "For me, it's that connection with the guests, that ability to be able to understand emotional intelligence, really enhance their experience and make a difference to their day."

The joy of delighting guests stayed with her and, after graduation, she returned to the Grand in Eastbourne as a cocktail bartender. She adds: "It was an amazing role. So much detail goes into one tiny little thing. The guest might only be dropping in for half an hour to have one drink, so it was up to us to think about how we could make that experience one they would not forget."

The Covid-19 pandemic brought an end to her role, but when hospitality reopened she sent a CV to everyone she could think of and, within 48 hours, she had left her parents' home to take up a role as food and beverage assistant at Tylney Hall hotel in Hook, Hampshire. She worked there for a year full-time while studying event management, before moving on to Cliveden House in Taplow, Berkshire, as a head waiter.

At every position Humphrey-Bishop took the opportunity to expand her skillset and she explains how, while working at Cliveden, she would volunteer to oversee a private dining venue in the hotel's cellar on her days off.

She explains: "The first time I saw private hires I thought ‘wow, this is what I really love'. I would come in on my day off to work in this beautiful cellar, which seated about 16 people. It would just be me and a sommelier, so I would design the room, lay the table, do a pre-dinner drink reception in the corner and then serve the dinner. It was unbelievable and I really enjoyed it."

How Jupiter Humphrey-Bishop came to work for the Royal Household

It was the desire to expand her knowledge that saw her apply for a role in the Royal Household and even now, while working full-time in a role that frequently takes her from London to other royal residences around the UK, the footman explains that she spends her evenings and weekends studying to grow her skillset.

After an initial application in 2019 was derailed by the outbreak of Covid-19, she reapplied in 2022 after finding a vacancy through a simple Google search for ‘hospitality roles at the Royal Household'.

She says: "It still feels like a dream – it's been incredible. It's given me the opportunity to experience something completely different and learn skills I might not have been able to learn anywhere else. I've been able to really push myself to the next level and take a big step up.

"It has been a really big learning curve and I've had amazing support from the whole team. Detail is everything, there's no room for mistakes and once you learn to look at things with that level of detail, you can't unlearn it. You're then at home plumping cushions until they're perfect."

The team of footmen is predominantly focused on delivering events, be it drink receptions, private dinners, state visits, garden parties or major national occasions, such as jubilees, coronations and royal funerals. For example, in May 2023 they were integral to the planning and delivery of the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla. As part of the celebration, the team worked on a luncheon for realm prime ministers and governors-general of the Commonwealth, and a reception for heads of state and official overseas representatives the evening before the Coronation.

Out of her comfort zone

It was Humphrey-Bishop's managers at the Royal Household who suggested she enter the Gold Service Scholarship. She says: "It was a big step and initially my response was ‘oh gosh can I do this?'. But I thought, let's just try it, see what happens and, most importantly, enjoy it.

"The networking alone is brilliant. From day one you meet these amazing people and throughout your journey they're there to support you and give you their skills and knowledge. Everyone wants you to do well and I found that so inspiring."

Humphrey-Bishop says she was "shocked" to win the competition, which had thrown her out of her comfort zone. She adds: "I hadn't had that much experience with wine and to learn those skills I just had to throw myself in the deep end. My managers at the Royal Household were really supportive and ran some training sessions for me. it's been really amazing. I really did learn so many skills while taking part – it's so well rounded. I didn't just learn wine skills, it was cocktail skills, hosting and presentation skills, and you really have to work as a team. That's the most important thing."

Prize of the Gold Service Scholarship

As the 2023 winner of the Gold Service Scholarship, Humphrey-Bishop has spent the past 12 months undertaking the learning and development opportunities included in the scholar's prize. One of the most inspirational, she says, was a placement at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Bangkok, where over a week she was exposed to every department at the luxury hotel, including the world-famous Bamboo Bar.

She also worked in the hotel's two-Michelin-starred Le Normandie by Alain Roux restaurant, where she learned to carve meat and flambée crêpes Suzette tableside. Humphrey-Bishop adds that what she found most inspirational was the way the hotel treated its employees who, when she arrived, were celebrating being named one of the top 50 hotels in the world. She loved that when team members joined the hotel, they made a handprint in sand, which was hung on the wall and presented to them on their departure.

Her prizes have also seen her immersed in the intricacies of event planning during her placement at Villa Igiea, undertake a wine training course at the Savoy hotel in London, a course in brand management with public relations and communications business Susa Comms and coaching sessions at the Dorchester hotel in London.

She adds: "It's been an unbelievable year, probably the best 12 months ever. It's been incredible to learn about different cultures and see hospitality in different environments. It's so important to broaden our skills and learn about different ways of doing things, and the grace and elegance of hospitality in Thailand was unbelievable."

There's more to come and 2024 will see Humphrey-Bishop study for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust's Level 2 and 3 awards in wine, enjoy an educational trip to Porto and undertake a week's training at the Ritz London as well as travelling to EHL Hospitality Business School.

Although Humphrey-Bishop has set herself challenges throughout her career – at 15 she entered and won the Young Chef Eastbourne competition – and says she would encourage others to "jump into something scary and just enjoy it", she has also faced challenges. When Covid shut down the hospitality industry in 2020 she was made redundant, and she also pushed herself to move on when an employer couldn't offer her progression opportunities.

She adds: "I want to tell people that they can dream big – there are no limits, I was made redundant, I didn't get a job I wanted, all these things happened but I think self-belief is really important."

Humphrey-Bishop's desire to be an ambassador for the industry has also seen her join the Institute of Hospitality's Youth Council, write articles to promote a positive image of the industry, speak to college students and judge competitions. She plans to continue her work at the Royal Household and with the Institute of Hospitality's Youth Council and ultimately one day she would like to have her own business, but she stresses that her primary ambition is to keep hold of the realisation she had on her first day in hospitality: "That it's all about creating an incredible experience."

Gold Service Scholarship trustees

  • Alastair Storey, chair of trustees and founder of the Gold Service Scholarship
  • Edward Griffiths, chair of judges
  • Silvano Giraldin
  • Thomas Kochs
  • Sergio Rebecchi
  • Knut Wylde
  • Alessandro Fasoli
  • Lydia Forte
  • David Battersby

A worthy scholar

Alastair Storey, chair of trustees and founder of the Gold Service Scholarship

"Jupiter has been an exceptional scholar. Not only did she demonstrate incredible talent and ability during the competition last year, but she has really become a wonderful ambassador for our sector.

"Over the last 12 months, Jupiter has really embraced her learning opportunities and taken the time to pass on her knowledge and experience to younger people looking to enter our fantastic sector."

Mathew Palser, palace steward at the Royal Household

"It has been a delight to watch Jupiter undertake her scholarship year with a full and varied programme around the world.

"Although 12 months have passed, with WSET and the upcoming course at EHL Hospitality Business School still to come, I am excited to see Jupiter's continued development as she moves from scholar to ambassador, both for the Gold Service Scholarship and all front of house professionals."

The 2024 finalists

The winner of the 2024 Gold Service Scholarship will be announced on 5 February at Claridge's in London. The finalists are:

  • Serena Buono, assistant manager,
  • Royal Automobile Club, Woodcote Park, Surrey
  • Scott Crowe, supervisor, Balmoral hotel, Edinburgh
  • Simona Federová, chef de rang, the Ritz London
  • Etienne Harding, assistant restaurant manager, the Goring, London
  • Rizwan Khan, general manager, Junsei Marylebone, London
  • Annabel Rohm, restaurant assistant manager, Gleneagles, Perthshire
  • Alexandra Sollis, guest relations manager, the Scarlet hotel, Newquay, Cornwall
  • Joe Southwood, assistant lounge manager, Corinthia London

Past Gold Service Scholarship winners: Where are they now?

How Gold Service Scholars have fared:

2013 Rebecca Clough, group talent manager, Luxury Family Hotels

2014 James Fleming, guest services manager, the Peninsula London

2015 Daniele Quattromini, director of food and beverage, Corinthia London

2016 Jennifer Howard, deputy director of food and beverage, Claridge's, London

2017 Stephanie Andr, deputy general manager, Fowey Hall hotel, Cornwall

2018 Michael Staub, chief of staff to the chief executive, Tertianum

2019 Karen Cross, restaurant administrator, the Swan Inn, Islip

2021 Elizabeth Forkuoh, assistant restaurant general manager, Claridge's, London

2022 Thomas Gammella, deputy general manager, WSH Restaurants

How to enter the 2025 Gold Service Scholarship

The Gold Service Scholarship was launched in 2012 with the aim of fostering the next generation of front of house talent in the UK.

It is open to applications from all front of house professionals based in the UK aged between 22 and 28.

The scholarship gives anyone working full-time in food and beverage service at hotels, restaurants, catering companies or private members' clubs the opportunity to be mentored by industry leaders.

Applicants are required to complete an application form, which will be considered by the judges. Successful candidates will be invited to partake in the quarter-finals of the competition.

The launch of the 2025 scholarship will be announced in September on the Gold Service Scholarship's Instagram page @goldscholarship

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