Shane Cooke, senior company executive chef for independent catering company Vacherin, has been awarded the 2019 Acorn Scholarship organised by The Caterer.
Cooke became the 17th winner of the award by impressing the judging panel a presentation which outlined his ambition to become a director of food for a contract catering company with a focus on food for well-being.
The chef is a qualified fitness instructor and described how he intends to drive food to another level, by delivering nourishment and well-being with innovative recipes alongside developing a transferable workplace website with food recipes, exercise videos, nourishment and fitness advice, fitness classes, training partnerships and a discussion portal.
Cooke spoke of giving back to the industry by promoting good mind-health and active lifestyles. He said he had experience of people in the industry who had suffered from depression and anxiety and how his ambitions would help people eat and exercise to improve their mood.
The scholarship sponsors and judges included: Lisa Jenkins, products and suppliers editor, The Caterer; Kayleigh Wiltshire, global learning and development manager at the Dorchester Collection; Eimear O'Brien, area human resources manager for Valor Hospitality Partners; Ruston Toms, chairman of the PM Trust and founding director of Blue Apple Contract Catering; Hannah Horler, managing director of Cartwheel Recruitment; Jo Harley, managing director of Purple Cubed; Adam Bateman, group operations and development chef at IHG; Jon Reed, brand director of Paddy & Scott's, and 2018 Acorn Scholar, Sandra Preciado.
Jo Harley, scholarship judge and managing director of PurpleCubed, said: "We believe Shane will have an impact on the industry with his ideas and has so much potential to help others. Purple Cubed has been involved with the Acorn Scholarship for many years now and we look forward to working with him in 2019 to provide professional development learning sessions."
Cooke received a prize valued at more than £5,000, including a £2,000 bursary for bespoke professional development opportunities, agreed with the Acorn Scholarship team, to support him in achieving his goal.
Hannah Horler, managing director of Cartwheel Recruitment and an Acorn Scholarship judge, added: "Shane has real drive to share his passion for health and wellness with a larger audience and will make a fantastic scholar."
Previous winners of the Acorn Scholarship include, Lee Bye, chef-patron, Tuddenham Mill, Suffolk; Charlotte Horler, operations manager, New Hall Hotel & Spa, Hand Picked Hotels; Daniel McLoughlin, business manager at Rocksalt Café, Leinster, Ireland; and Simon Houston, sales director, Bartlett Mitchell.
The Acorn Scholarship is a self-nominated award and is open to individuals who are UK residents and able to work in the UK without restriction. Sponsors include the Dorchester Collection, Principal Hotels, Valor Hospitality Partners and the PM Trust with patrons Purple Cubed and the Springboard Charity.
The remaining nine shortlisted finalists will be given feedback and allocated a member of the Acorn Scholarship panel to liaise with for future support.
Pic cap (l-r) Eimear O'Brien, area human resources manager for Valor Hospitality Partners; Adam Bateman, group operations and development chef, IHG/Kimpton; Shane Cooked, 2019 Acorn Scholarship winner; Kayleigh Wiltshire, global learning and development manager at the Dorchester Collection and Ruston Toms, chairman of the PM Trust and founding director of Blue Apple Contract Catering