Oscar Clarke from Sheffield Hallam University and Harriet Smales from Oxford Brookes University have been crowned Young Guns 2016.
The two hospitality management students saw off competition from six other finalists to take the title, awarded by the Council for Hospitality Management Education (CHME).
They triumphed after a networking lunch involving eight judges hosted by Lexington Catering. The finalists spoke to each judge personally for 10 minutes, having already been assessed through a paper and video entry.
Smales impressed the judges having spent her 12-month placement at BAFTA, making a significant contribution to its sales and marketing team and delivering £70,000 worth of business.
Clarke spent his placement at the Goring hotel, where he worked in the concierge department and as a footman. The judges commented on his commitment and relentless enthusiasm throughout the finals process.
Lexington Catering chairman Tim West presented the awards and told the finalists it had been an exceptional year for talent, making the final decision difficult.
Receiving his Young Guns award, Clarke said: "This is a great shot for my confidence. It's driving me to do greater things and encouraged me that I'm on the right track."
Smales added: "This award is fantastic for our confidence. Gaining this type of recognition is really special. It's easy to forget your achievements, so it's great they they're recognised in this way."
The two winners will receive assistance in gaining employment with a high-profile hospitality business, one year's membership for the Institute of Hospitality, and invitations to this year's Catey Awards, which take place on 5 July at London's Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott Hotel.
The Young Guns judges were Lexington Catering chairman Tim West; Peter Ducker, chief executive of the Institute of Hospitality; CH&Co human resources director Alison Gilbert; Royal Air Force Club chief executive Miles Pooley; Liz Cave, director at Your Invisible Partner; Jane Sunley, chief executive officer and founder of Purple Cubed; and James Stagg, deputy editor at The Caterer.
Young Guns finalists
Stephanie Banfield, Bournemouth University
Oscar Clarke, Sheffield Hallam University
Richard Edmond, Sheffield Hallam University
Julia Jefferis, Leeds Beckett University
David Klein, International University of Applied Sciences Bad Honnef
Fayme Meera Patel, Robert Gordon University
Lara Senhen, Robert Gordon University
Harriet Smales, Oxford Brookes University
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