Jennifer Santner from the Rhubarb-run Fenchurch restaurant at Sky Garden, London, has been named the winner of the Gold Service Scholarship 2016.
Santner will now receive a year of mentoring from industry greats such as Diego Masciaga and Silvano Giraldin, along with the opportunity to work with the Royal Household at a state occasion, and attend the Mondriaan Hotel School at The Hague.
She said: "I am thrilled to have been chosen as the scholar for 2016. I have enjoyed every moment of this competition and cannot wait to start planning my scholarship programme. I am sure that the next year will be a fantastic learning experience."
This year's awards ceremony was attended by the Queen, who said in the ceremony programme's foreword: "As Patron of the Gold Service Scholarship I am pleased to note the success of the Trust's work and to see that, in a relatively short space of time, it has raised the profile of hospitality and service skills in the United Kingdom."
Santner beat seven other finalists to the title, who all had to plan, prepare for, and serve a three-course lunch with wine to leading industry professionals at London's Connaught hotel last week as part of the judging process.
Gold Service Scholarship trustee Thomas Kochs said: "It has been exciting to see this year's finalists progress through the competition and to see the high level of service excellence that exists in the hospitality industry. It was a tough decision but we are delighted to present Jennifer Santner with the scholarship this evening and I look forward to seeing how she makes the most of her scholarship experience."
The judges also recognised Stephanie Beresforde from Scott's restaurant as one to watch, and credited James Parums from Buckingham Palace as the finalists who had developed most through the competition. Christoph Schrottenbaum from Dinner by Heston Blumenthal was given recognition for his developing service skills.
Overall winner Santner follows in the footsteps of the inaugural winner of the event in 2013, Rebecca Dibben, now working in recruitment; James Fleming, reception supervisor, the Berkeley hotel, London (2014); and Daniele Quattromini, manager at Club Lounge 39 in Canary Wharf (2015).
The Gold Service Scholarship 2016 national finalists
Stephanie Beresforde, Scott's Restaurant, London
Innes Haywood, L'Enclume, Cumbria
Charlie Lee, Fera at Claridge's, London
Tom Noller, Sexy Fish, London
James Parums, Buckingham Palace, London
Jennifer Santner, Sky Garden, London
Christoph Schrottenbaum, Dinner at Heston Blumenthal, London
Sophia Warland, RAF Odiham, Hampshire
Latest video from The Caterer