Nominations are now open for the 2021 Acorn Awards, which recognise 30 of the most exciting up and coming hospitality stars under the age of 30.
The Acorn Awards are organised by The Caterer in partnership with headline sponsor CH&Co and supporting sponsor Arla Pro. The awards, which are in their 35th year, will, with the help of our highly respected panel of judges, provide winners with the acknowledgement of which they are so deserving – not to mention the recognition that can propel careers.
As we look to rebuild our industry following the devastation that befell it last year, recognising, rewarding and retaining the best talent will be paramount.
Lisa Jenkins, managing editor of The Caterer, explained: "What defines an Acorn winner is a generosity of spirit and a can-do attitude, as well as their ability to look beyond the day-to-day challenges. Past winners have demonstrated tenacity, passion and ambition. This year our judges will be looking for Acorns who can display empathy, adaptability and perseverance.
"The Acorn Awards aim to represent the great diversity of our industry. In 2020, of our 30 winners, 14 were female – an increase from 11 in 2019 and nine in 2018. But the industry can and must do better when it comes to acknowledging and nurturing the talent of young women, people of colour, people with disabilities and the LGBTQ+ community."
Allister Richards, chief operating officer at CH&Co, said: "We're very proud to continue our partnership with The Caterer as headline sponsor of the Acorn Awards. There's no getting away from the fact that it's been a difficult year for hospitality, but as our industry has shown, time and time again, tough times generate incredible examples of resilience, energy and commitment from our people, from the frontline to the board room.
"It's never been more important to nurture these exceptional qualities and provide the right support and development opportunities for all. This will help fuel our industry's bounce-back and create a strong legacy in the next generation of inclusive, inspiring and agile leaders. The Acorn Awards embodies this and celebrates young, emerging talent across the diverse roles and careers hospitality offers. I know times are tough, but I encourage all my fellow leaders to recognise and nominate their rising stars. It's a worthwhile investment and I can't wait to be inspired by this year's entries. Good luck to everyone."
Joining us as the Acorn Awards supporting sponsor for 2021, Jonathan Dixon, vice-president at Arla Pro, added: "We're delighted to be sponsoring the Acorn Awards for the first time this year, after what has been a turbulent period for hospitality. Now, more than ever, we believe it's important to shine a spotlight on the people who make our industry what it is and whose resilience, fight and positivity will ensure that we bounce back stronger than ever.
"I look forward to seeing how this year's programme unfolds and to meeting the future leaders of UK hospitality once the finalists are unveiled this summer."
There are only three criteria to nominate someone for an Acorn Award: they must work in the hospitality industry; be under the age of 30 on 13 June 2021; and be available for the winners' weekend, which will take place at South Lodge hotel in Horsham, West Sussex, on 13-14 June 2021.
David Connell, general manager of South Lodge, said: "We are delighted to be hosting this year's Acorn Awards and cannot wait to welcome the deserving winners. Due to the pandemic we were, sadly, unable to host them in 2020, but it has increased our enthusiasm to hold them this year and are very much looking forward to welcoming the future of hospitality leaders.
"The opening of our £14m spa in March 2019, gives us an opportunity to showcase the wonderful facilities we have created and, by working with some of our local partners, provide an experience the winners will remember. With health and wellbeing being a hot topic, we will focus on incorporating this into the weekend, but of course leave time to celebrate in style!"
Previous Acorn Award winners include chefs Jason Atherton, Marcus Wareing, Glynn Purnell, Elly Wentworth, Will Torrent and the late Gary Rhodes; the founder of Soho House Nick Jones, Tim Axe, commercial director at Benugo, Sandra Bein, head sommelier at Mere, Liam Hatcher, head of learning and development at CH&Co and Liam Barrie, managing director at the Marram Grass.