Vilda Kemezaite and Reane Destouche were named the winners of Restaurant Associates' (RA) 13th annual Hospitality and Culinary Skills competition.
Held at Pillars restaurant at the University of West London, Ealing, the competition saw eight front of house and eight chef finalists compete for the title in front of judges that included Silvano Giraldin, Michael West, Jason Atherton and Albert Roux.
Vilda Kemezaitecollects her award
Kemezaite, who works as hospitality manager for RA at Morgan Stanley, won the front of house award, seeing off competition from seven other finalists.
The final began with a Champagne pour, watched closely by the panel of expert judges, which included Giraldin, restaurant director of the two-Michelin starred Le Gavroche and West, general manager Jason Atherton's Social Company.
Jack Scott, chairman and chief executive of wine supplier Jascots, and Greg Mace, managing director of Rapport, a sister business in Compass Group, also judged the front of house finalists, who were tasked with serving a three-course menu for four diners at a table laid according to their own choosing.
Reane Destouche collects his award
Meanwhile Destouche, whose day job is as senior chef de partie for Restaurant Associates at HSBC, won the chef competition.
The chefs produced the food served by the front of house competitors, with Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, Albert Roux OBE, David Simms of Umbel Restaurant Group, and Restaurant Associates chef director Jeremy Ford acting as judges.
Alfredo de Silva from the fine dining and events team at Eversheds and Bettina Panovics, butler at Credit Suisse, were placed second and third in the front of house competition, while John Price, a sous chef at Nomura, and Sonny Lee, a sous chef at Wragge Lawrence Graham were runners up in the kitchen.
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