The winners of the 34th Acorn Awards, which recognise 30 of the industry's most talented stars aged under 30, were recognised in a virtual awards ceremony last week.
This year's winners, their nominators and the award judges joined The Caterer for a virtual awards presentation alongside sponsors CH&Co and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET).
The awards were presented virtually by The Caterer's managing editor Lisa Jenkins, CH&Co's chief operating officer Allister Richards and Rachel Webster, business development director EMEA at WSET.
The annual awards highlight and celebrate the achievements of 30 of the industry's brightest stars, with each winner nominated by their peers for outstanding ability and successes in their field.
Sponsor Richards said: "The qualities of inclusive, engaging and pragmatic leadership are what our industry needs as we look to exit a tough 2020, and I'm delighted that those qualities and more are in abundance among the Acorn Award winners this year.
"If you have the energy, commitment, resilience and perhaps (if I may) a bit of natural charm thrown in, you can forge a truly fantastic career in hospitality. Our Acorn Award winners of 2020 are testament to that fact, and no pandemic will change my view on that.
"So, as our industry bounces back – which it will – I know that the skills, aptitude and strength of character shown by our winners will help ensure its future, and we will watch with great anticipation as they continue to grow and develop in the years ahead. Congratulations from all the team at CH&Co."
Webster added: "This has been an incredibly challenging year for the hospitality industry and for those rising young stars who have been so dedicated to their trade. It is an honour for WSET to be the training sponsor of the Acorn Awards and an even greater privilege for me to digitally present the awards to the winners.
"I hope the challenges of 2020 only go on to feed the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of this year's Acorns winners and to help them to inspire others to follow in their path. Congratulations to all 2020 Acorns!'
David Connell, general manager of South Lodge hotel in West Sussex, which was due to host the 2020 Acorn Awards, joined the winners virtually and welcomed them all to join the 2021 winners for alumni drinks next year. He also announced a social media competition for the winners – posting their most creative pictures with their Acorn trophies in order to win a stay at the award-winning hotel and spa.
Ridgeview Wines, which will also be involved in the 2021 Acorn Awards, sent all the winners a bottle of its sparkling English wine, Bloomsbury, for a virtual wine tasting in association with WSET at the end of the event.
"It wasn't the Acorn Awards weekend we were anticipating and although we tried everything to make it work in person, it was not to be," added Jenkins. "Nevertheless, the winners were in high spirits and we were able to share their achievements and celebrate together with their nominators."
The 2020 Acorn winners
- Jessica Burrow, conference and events sales manager, the Montague on the Gardens hotel, London (Red Carnation Hotels)
- Ryan Doyle, director of sales, Park Regis, Birmingham
- Owen Farr, restaurant manager, the Queensberry hotel and Olive Tree restaurant, Bath
- Nicola Gartenberg, operations director, Adam Handling Restaurant Group
- Jakob Gowin, general manager, Leonardo Hotel London Heathrow Airport
- George Hunt, head of event sales, the Nomad, London
- Manuel Infante, director of events and sales, Park Plaza, London, PPHE Hotel Group
- Chinwe Inyamah, people and development manager, the Ned, London
- Leo Kattou, head chef, Simpsons, Birmingham
- Jordan Kerridge, head chef, the Stafford London
- Josh Key, development and sustainability manager, Blue Apple Catering
- Sian Lewis, general manager, the Duke of Wellington, Surrey (Peach Pubs)
- Abbie Livesey, contract manager, Rapport at Broadgate, London
- Andrew Mackay, head pastry chef, Gleneagles, Auchterarder, Scotland
- Edward Marsh, sous chef, the Manor House hotel, Castle Combe, Exclusive Collection
- Manuel Martínez-Infante, director of events and sales, Park Plaza, London, PPHE Hotel Group
- Dan McGeorge, head chef, Rothay Manor, Ambleside, Cumbria
- Tom McMillan, food and beverage manager, Park Plaza London Waterloo, PPHE Hotel Group
- Emma Monzon, spa manager, Hanbury Manor, Marriott Hotel & Country Club, Ware, Hertfordshire
- Richard Newell, assistant director of food and beverage, the Dorchester, London
- Oliver Palmer, global luxury account director – leisure, Marriott International, London
- Charlotte Partridge, senior procurement analyst, CH&Co
- Hebe Richardson, nutrition consultant, working with Bartlett Mitchell
- Louise Roberts, sous chef, Lexington Catering
- Charlotte Rouse, head of mobilisations and supply chain for London, BaxterStorey
- Joe Rozier, head chef, the Mariners at Rock, Cornwall
- Jemma Wade, executive assistant and projects manager, London Marriott Hotel County Hall, London
- Charlotte Ward, regional HR manager, Leaf Hospitality
- Chary Wilson, sales and marketing manager, CH&Co
- Emma Wood, head of people, Casna Group
- Daniel Wratten-Sanchez, senior general manager, White Brasserie Company (Brasserie Bar Co)