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HAYDEN GROVES, BAXTERSTOREY
Hayden Groves' immense contribution to the growth of BaxterStorey, where he has worked for the past three and a half years, is equally matched by his support and enthusiasm for the wider industry, making him the perfect winner of this year's Chef of the Year award.
With a firm hand on cost controls, supported by sending almost no animal waste to landfill, Groves has moved gross profit level up from 53% to 78%, resulting in a 25% uplift in revenue over the past year.
Through an almost evangelical approach to changing perceptions of the foodservice industry, Groves has achieved exceptional feedback from his client about the level of service his team provide. His ongoing dedication to the development of his 11-strong team is renowned. Throughout his time with the company, some 10 porters and servers have progressed - as a result of his support and encouragement - to the position of chefs.
Groves also helps his staff to recognise their true potential by encouraging them to take part in competitions, such as Young National Chef of the Year and National Chef of the Year, which he himself won in 2013. He is particularly proud to have become the first foodservice chef to hold the title in the competition's 40-year history.
However, he recognises that it is not all about awards and ensures that his team is kept motivated within the general remit of their jobs. Every month he takes his team to a restaurant to discuss training needs and any concerns they have. Since the introduction of these meetings there has been a dramatic and positive shift in the team.
Within the wider business, Groves is a tutor, mentor and company ambassador for the BaxterStorey Chef Academy, while outside the company he liaises with students at his former college in Hertfordshire.
Recognising that not every member of the industry has been so fortunate in enjoying the same opportunities he experienced, Groves has become an enthusiastic supporter of Hospitality Action, and recently joined the charity's London regional board.
Having begun his career as a restaurant chef, Groves moved into the world of corporate catering in the late 1990s and went on to become the youngest executive chef at Lloyd's of London before joining BaxterStorey in 2012. He has not only embraced the sector, he is also now one of its leading ambassadors.
What the judges said
"Hayden is passionate about his work, helps young chefs attain awards and is involved in fundraising activities. He has achieved an impressive 25% increase in revenue, as well as growing gross profit from 53% to 78%."
Steve Deacon, Sodexo
"This is a very well-deserved win for Hayden. He has helped raise the profile of contract catering by winning the National Chef of the Year award, showing tenacity and dedication in coming back a second time to win."
Rob Kirby, Lexington Catering
"An outstanding winner who is passionate, inspiring and very hardworking. The term 'going the extra mile' was written for Hayden."
Alberto Crisci, The Clink Charity
Ian Green, Green & Fortune
Hayden Groves, BaxterStorey
Lloyd Mann, ISS Food & Hospitality
2014 Nick Vadis, Compass Group
2013 Rob Kirby, Lexington Catering