The Caterer

Acorn winner 2007: Darren Neilan

10 May 2007
Acorn winner 2007: Darren Neilan

Age: 30
Position: Restaurant manager, One-O-One, Sheraton Park Tower, London

Career to date

After graduating from catering college in Northern Ireland in 1998, Neilan moved to England and worked at the Dining Room in Reigate from 1999 to 2002, rising from waiter to assistant manager. He then moved on to One-O-One as chef de rang, progressing to head waiter and junior assistant manager in just three months. After two years in this position he was promoted to assistant restaurant manager, becoming restaurant manager the following year, managing a team of 17 staff and overseeing a 70-cover operation.

Why is he a winner?

Since joining the Sheraton Park Tower, Neilan has succeeded in creating a motivated and dedicated team and dramatically reduced staff turnover, as well as improving guest satisfaction and profitability. He has proved to be a great team leader and under his guidance more than half of his team have progressed internally.

Neilan has thrown himself into all areas of One-O-One's operation, working closely with the restaurant's PR company to raise its profile. This year he has been busy overseeing the refurbishment and redesign of the restaurant space. He is also actively involved in parent company Starwood's Six Sigma process improvement methodology and his work on energy awareness helped reduce energy consumption across the group's London hotels.

In addition to promoting visits from colleges and universities, Neilan is a keen supporter of work placements for students from the UK and abroad. He is also a member of the Academy of Food and Wine Service and sits on its recently launched food service committee.

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