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21 things you may not know about the Cateys…

01 July 2004
21 things you may not know about the Cateys…

1. Arriving with a bang In 1984, the first Cateys were held at the Grosvenor House hotel in London, where they have stayed ever since - except for the year 2000 when, for the millennium, guests went into a tent in the Honourable Artillery Company's grounds in the City, just off Chiswell Street.

2. In-tent cordial City caterer Chester Boyd has been the only event caterer to host the Cateys. In 2000, it catered for 1,400 people - the biggest Cateys bash ever - in a 2,000sq m marquee. Charles Boyd (above, right) was Food Service Caterer of the Year in 2001.

3. If anyone deserved to win… The awards were the brainchild of former Caterer editor Joe Hyam, who went on to pick up the Special Award in 1991. In the inaugural year, gongs went to the legendary owner of Langan's brasserie and Shepherd's restaurant, Richard Shepherd (the Independent Restaurateur title), and to Michel Bourdin (the Chef Award).

4. Triple crown The inaugural year also saw the Waterside Inn, Michel Roux's restaurant at Bray, win the first Menu of the Year title. This was the first of three Cateys for gastronomic godfather Roux, who picked up the Independent Restaurateur title in 1985 and then a Lifetime Achievement Catey (an award given only once every three years) with his brother Albert in 1995.

5. Same again, landlord… No one has ever beaten Roux's haul of three Cateys - but it has been equalled by a hugely successful and professional double act from Harome in North Yorkshire. Jackie and Andrew Pern, owners of the Michelin-starred pub, the Star Inn, have taken the Menu of the Year (1997), Newcomer of the Year (1998) and Pub Operator of the Year (2002) titles.

6. Oh lordy, lordy Other notable winners have included Lord Forte of Ripley, awarded the first Lifetime Achievement Award in 1986 (apparently his name was printed in the guest list as "Lordy Forte" on the day).

7. Another novel experience Last year, David Foskett was awarded the first new Catey for six years, the Education and Training Award.

8. We get groupies, too Peter Boizot, founder of PizzaExpress, won the inaugural Group Restaurateur title in 1984. Restaurant doyenne Elena Salvoni won Manager of the Year in 1996, while pub-with-fine-food pioneer Denis Watkins took the Pub Operator title in 1998, the year after the same award went to Steven and Marjorie Doherty.

9. Plus ça change… The Duke of Westminster handed out the Catey trophies in 1986 and, having just returned from the USA, warned guests at the event that "the Americans would need a great deal more reassurance before they would return to the UK in anything like their previous numbers". How history repeats itself…

10. Family-size bucket wasn't big enough In 1995, the Cateys fell on 4 July, so we invited four James Beard award-winning American chefs to take over the Grosvenor House's kitchens to create a US-style banquet. What did we learn? Service overran by an hour, and the meal went down like a lead balloon - it seems no one can put on a show like our boys…

11. Very proper, very pukka The awards have proved to be extremely wide-ranging. The Special Award, for instance, was first presented to cookery author Victor Ceserani (above), while, in 2003, Jamie Oliver took the title. While both men have contributed enormously to hospitality education, their differing styles, methods and profiles are marks of just how much the industry has changed.

12. No Dutch treat At the 1998 event, the Cateys night clashed with the World Cup semi-final between Brazil and Holland. Doing the decent thing, we duly made an announcement on stage that the South Americans had won 4-2 on penalties. Unfortunately, this news left one member of the audience grey around the gills - it turned out he'd put £25,000 on the Dutch winning.

13. She just came out with it… Presenters over the years have ranged from ITV weather girl Sian Lloyd (who popped out of her outfit, literally), through radio presenter Sarah Kennedy (who, as one winner approached to receive her award, remarked on her choice of outfit: "Did you get it from a catalogue?"), to the late Jill Dando, probably our best-ever presenter, and the delightfully acerbic Ian Hislop.

14. Can we pick 'em, or what? In 1987, the Cateys were the first awards to recognise the fiery and radical talents of a young chef from Yorkshire, one Marco Pierre White. MPW picked up the Newcomer of the Year award for his exploits at Harvey's on London's Wandsworth Common.

15. Why the big Horse? Big horse it's the cateys…Eight years ago, the event embraced flower power when a flying horse with a wingspan of 12ft, made entirely of flowers and weighing 9kg, met guests as they entered the Grosvenor House's Great Room. Pegasus, as it was called (naturally), was made from 5,500 dried flowers and had a life span of three years.

16. Making things crystal-clear There are 12,800 crystals sparkling in the Great Room's chandeliers - and 1,850 Champagne glasses will be used on awards night in an attempt to make the guests sparkle too.

17. Makes Oscar look like a paperweight The 36cm, 3kg bronze statuette that is now the Catey trophy was designed for the 1984 ceremony by sculptor Th‚rŠse Theodas. The willowy, long-limbed figure has remained exactly the same since (a feat sadly unmatched by her flesh-and-blood recipients).

18. didn't he do well? Gordon Ramsay lifted the Chef Award in 2000, the year before he gained his third Michelin star at Gordon Ramsay in London. Other Chef Award winners include John Burton-Race (1995), Shaun Hill (1993), Raymond Blanc (1990) and Anton Mosimann (pictured) (1985).

19. A long day's journey… Menu planning for this year's awards evening began on 22 January, with the first pan due to be plonked on the first stove at 7am the day before the bash. Fifteen chefs will have worked on the meal, using (among other ingredients, of course) 500 celeriac.

20…Into night A corps of 120 waiting staff will serve the meal, the longest-serving of whom has been with the Great Room team for 40 years. And when it's all over - and the last revellers have been swept up along with the discarded menus, used Party Poppers and lost inhibitions - the last clearer-upper will go home at 7am.

21. No novelty acts, these The Newcomer of the Year title is an award that the Cateys can be rightly proud of, often giving young chefs and operators their first taste of glory. Paul and Jeanne Rankin got it in 1991, Paul Heathcote the following year, and in 1995 it went to Gordon Ramsay.

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