De Vere Hotels and Village Urban Resorts' first annual food and beverage competition has produced nine contenders who will go forward to the company's Excellence Awards in January.
The competition was held to find the Restaurant Person of the Year, Bar Person of the Year and Up and Coming Chef of the Year and follows seven regional heats, held earlier in the year.
In the restaurant category, contestants had to deliver a full lunch service to the judges, during which they were tested on their ability to up sell, build a rapport with guests, exceed customer expectations and their food and wine knowledge.
The bar competition saw the entrants being tested on a series of challenges, including the perfect pour by beverage experts at Marstons, Bibendum and InBev; while the chefs had to produce a three course menu within two hours.
The successful restaurant contenders who now go forward to the Excellence Awards were: Beth Greenlaigh, Village Urban Resort Bury;, Katie O'Neil, Village Urban Resort Walsall and Lucas Collier, Village Urban Resort Swansea.
The top three in the bar competition were: Morgan Williams, Village Urban Resort Swansea, Natalie Blackshaw, Village Urban Resort Cheadle and Luke Sherwood, Village Urban Resort Hull.
And the three chefs who came out top were: Isaac Copeland, The Grand Brighton; Josh Singleton, Mottram Hall and Kurtis Mutch, Belton Woods.
The winner of each category will be awarded £1,000 at the Excellence Awards.
Robert Cook, chief executive of De Vere Hotels and Village Urban Resorts, who judged the completion said: "I left inspired and astonished at the level of enthusiasm and talent in the group that stands us in fantastic stead for our expansion into Scotland next year and beyond".
Other judges included: Mike Williams, director of people development; Cat James and Nigel ‘Fresh' Freshman of Free Radio; and Peter Robinson, principal lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton.
There are currently nine De Vere Hotels and 25 Village Urban resorts, with a further three Village hotels opening in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow in 2014.