The eight finalists for the 2019 Gold Service Scholarship have been announced.
40 applicants took part in the semi-finals on 26 November at Rosewood London, vying for the scholarship which recognises young, front of house professionals in hospitality.
The final will take place on 21 January 2019 at Corinthia Hotel London, and the winner will be announced on 4 February 2019 at Claridge's.
The winning scholar will receive an impressive array of prizes, including placements at a leading international hotel, prestigious UK restaurants and at a Buckingham Palace State Banquet, in addition to ongoing mentoring from the trustees.
The eight finalists are as follows:
• George Austin, maître d'hotel - Annabel's, London
• Lauren Chappell, assistant restaurant manager - Cromlix hotel, Kinbuck, Perthshire
• James Dainton, assistant restaurant manager - the Northall at the Corinthia Hotel London
• Tiziano de Mattia, assistant restaurant manager - Hide, London
• Eleanor Dimes, junior head waitress - Lucknam Park, Chippenham, Wiltshire
• Karen Gruet, assistant restaurant manager - Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Great Milton, Oxfordshire
• Laura Schlegel, head waitress - Dinner by Blumenthal, London
• Alexander Sumerauer, first head waiter - The Ritz, London
Edward Griffiths, chairman of the judges, said: "The level of enthusiasm and expertise among the semi-finalists made the task quite challenging to whittle down the list to just eight finalists. Each year, we note the very high quality of candidates from hotels, restaurants, private clubs and many other service establishments from across the country. Our goal is to identify and encourage these young people to grow within the hospitality industry."
All of the finalists will enjoy European wine tours and stages at top restaurants, and will join the recently launched Team Gold, a forum for networking and communication which had its most recent event, a dinner at Brown's hotel with Sir Rocco Forte.