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Sarah Holden, the Pig near Bath
Sarah Holden studied law at university, but found her way into the hospitality industry after taking a part-time job at the Revolution vodka bar in Leicester. What started off as a stop-gap while she completed her studies has turned into a highly successful career.
After working at the Bell Inn at Horndon in Essex, where she was mentored by owner John Vereker, Holden worked for a variety of businesses, such as Malmaison and the Star Inn at Harome in North Yorkshire, before spending five years at Jamie Oliver's restaurants, where she was promoted to general manager in 2010 and won GM of the Year.
She moved to the Pig near Bath as restaurant manager, ahead of its opening in early 2014. Since then, she has been promoted from restaurant manager to hotel director, responsible for the whole of the 30-bedroom venue. Holden was nominated for this award while still in her role as restaurant manager, in which she was responsible for overseeing the food and beverage offer at the hotel, which comprises a 90-cover restaurant, two private dining rooms (for 14 and 22 people) and a terrace.
On a busy day, excluding breakfast service, the restaurant can expect to serve 270 covers. Having joined prior to the restaurant opening, Holden's role has run the gamut, starting out with focusing on recruitment and training, as well as planning and implementing the restaurant structure. She won praise for recruiting a well-balanced team that not only had to get used to the new building, but also had to be "piggified" through a series of training courses, presentations and coaching sessions, as well as visits to other premises. Holden also oversaw the reservation system, PoS system, timesheet and rotas.
As time moved on, her role evolved. Having implemented the structural parts of the restaurant so well, she was able to concentrate on training and mentoring her team, as well as recruitment, finance and duty management, meeting her budget targets in the process.
Not only has she managed to launch the restaurant successfully, but the team that works with her has clearly been happy with the way in which this has been achieved. Staff turnover and retention statistics speak for themselves, with a turnover of just 14% in the first year of opening. This was one of the facts that impressed the judges most, and clearly it has impressed her employers too, in light of her recent promotion, which sees her take over from Tom Ross. He, in turn, has been appointed operations director overseeing the Bath Hotel and sister property, the Pig at Combe, near Honiton, Devon, which is currently being redeveloped from Combe House Hotel. The Pig at Combe is due to open in summer 2016 with around 33 bedrooms.
What the judges said
"Sarah has been at the Pig from its opening, so has been instrumental in achieving its successful performance and the high standard of service and low staff turnover it has maintained."
Stephen Moss, chairman, the Springboard charity
"She has grown and managed a great team and she is loyal. Her managers and team speak very highly of her. I can see her going far."
Arjeta Arapi, food and beverage manager, the Montague on the Gardens
"A worthy winner. Being part of the team from day one has allowed Sarah to have a real impact on how the Pig is run and the results that have followed. She will go far."
Craig Jackson, hotel manager, Northcote
Sarah Holden, Hotel director (recently promoted from restaurant manager), the Pig near Bath
Pierre Rizet-Mosser, Restaurant manager, the Montagu Arms Hotel, Beaulieu, Hampshire
2014 Davide Durante, Restaurant and bar manager, the Bingham, Richmond
2013 Andrew Sicklin, Galvin at Windows, London
2012 Michele Caggianese, Jumeirah Carlton Tower, London
2011 Mark Bevan, The Chester Grosvenor, Chester
2010 Diana Gailiunaite, Docklands Bar & Grill, London
2009 Marc Whitley, The River Bar & Grill at the Lowry, Manchester
2008 Loris Lucchini, The Chesterfield Mayfair, London
2007 Nicolas Roulier, The Serenity Spa, Seaham Hall, Seaham, Northumberland