The Association of Catering Excellence (ACE) named Leanne Findley, account manager for the aviation business for Sodexo, as the first-ever ACE Roybns winner at an event held earlier this evening (21 July).
The awards, which aim to showcase young talent in the world of contract catering, are named after Robyn Jones OBE, founder of CH&Co, who died in September 2015.
They recognise those under the age of 35 who have demonstrated what it takes to make a difference in the industry, whether it be cooking, serving or driving a business forward.
Findley is responsible for airport lounge operations and her client portfolio consists of: Emirates at Glasgow, Manchester and London Gatwick, Virgin Holidays at Manchester, Gulf Air, Qatar and Malaysia Airlines at London Heathrow, Upper Deck Lounge at Glasgow Airport, along with various FM contracts at UK airports.
She also supports business development globally by working on tenders, presentations and mobilisations.
Tim Jones, Suzie Boyd and ACE chairman Paul Hurren with Leanne
After a tough judging process 35 entrants were whittled down to 12 finalists from businesses including BaxterStorey, Blue Apple, Bartlett Mitchell, ISS, Lexington, Vacherin and Restaurant Associates.
Ming Lai, national account manager KPMG, Restaurant Associates and Emma Langford, people manager at Lexington Catering were both highly commended.
The other finalists were Holly Brown, BaxterStorey; Hannah Carmichael, Bartlett Mitchell; Paulina Ciecielag, ISS; Ryan Davies, BaxterStorey; Gregory Hall, Lexington; Henry Maasdorp, Blue Apple; Paul Matthews, Vacherin; Louisa May Matthews, Sodexo and Emma Shutler, Lexington.
Tim Jones, joint founder of CH&Co, who was one of the judges said: "I would like to congratulate all of the entrants. The standard of award entries was very high and several were particularly inspiring, demonstrating the drive and initiative that Robyn was well-known for.
"The judges had to make some difficult choices but I could see that Leanne would have struck a chord with Robyn."
Paul Hurren, chair of ACE, added: "When I became ACE chair one of my aims was to put young people in the spotlight, as they are the future of our industry and I believe we should champion young talent at every opportunity.
These awards are just one aspect of our work to involve the next generation. I know Robyn Jones would be delighted that she is still shining the spotlight on the stars of contract catering."
The ACE Robyns Awards, sponsored by Troika, were created by the ACE committee in memory of Robyn Jones, who was known for her tireless work in the mentoring, training and development of young talent.
The presentation, which formed part of the ACE summer event, took place on board the Bateaux London cruise on the River Thames in front of 250 guests.
As well as being the first to join the ACE Robyns hall of fame, Findley will also receive dinner and an overnight stay at the Shard, as well as Champagne and lifetime membership of ACE.
Latest video from The Caterer