José Núnez, kitchen porter at the Stafford London has been announced as this year's winner of the KP of the Year competition.
Núnez was selected as the winner of the 2017 competition, organised by The Caterer in partnership with warewasher manufacturer Winterhalter UK, from close to 100 entries in a year, described by Stephen Kinkead, the managing director of Winterhalter, as "mind-blowing".
"We have seen the quality of entries improve year-on-year and this year we were presented with an extraordinary challenge to even shortlist just 10 who stood head and shoulders above the rest. There are so many KPs in the industry doing a magnificent job," he said.
The judges also announced the presentation of three highly commended awards to Daniel Gligorov, head kitchen porter at the White Hart at Fyfield in Oxford; Bayani Balba, kitchen porter at One Great George Street, London; and Benji Berany, senior kitchen porter at the Vineyard in Newbury, Berkshire
Núnez was a unanimous choice by the judges as the overall winner of the competition. In addition to his regular duties, Núnez oversees the staff canteen, and assists in the cooking of staff food; he manages the bins and storage areas for the hotel; regularly assists other departments and colleagues; and in 2016 was chosen as the Stafford's employee of the year from over 150 employees.
Núnez assists the housekeeping team to ensure the external areas of the hotel are maintained and well-presented and takes control of the contracted night cleaners. He also takes on the responsibility of training new kitchen employees on the maintenance of equipment.
Mark Surguy, hotel manager for the Stafford, said: "José has been integral in reducing breakages in the hotel, has suggested new storage solutions and works relentlessly to ensure that the kitchen never has to struggle to find equipment when they need it."
Kinkead and Lisa Jenkins, products and suppliers editor of The Caterer, surprised Núnez at the Stafford with news of his success. Surguy arranged for a team meeting at which the KP was presented with his winning trophy.
"I'm very surprised but happy to win this award and it was great to have my colleagues with me in the room" said Núnez.
James Durrant, executive chef of the Stafford, added: "Having Jose here for the opening of the Game Bird has ensured a smooth opening. We know we can always rely on him"
The brainchild of Winterhalter UK, the KP of the Year competition launched in 2013 to recognise kitchen porters working in restaurants, pubs, schools, contract catering and hotels across the country.
The judging panel consisted of: Lisa Jenkins, products and suppliers editor, The Caterer (chair); James Horler, chief executive of Ego Restaurants, director of Patisserie Valerie, Charterhouse Leisure, Ping Pong and Cartwheel Recruitment; Richard Davies, executive chef of Calcot Manor Hotel in Tetbury; Anne Pierce, chief executive, Springboard UK; Sara Jayne Stanes, chief executive, the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts; Hayden Groves, executive chef, BaxterStorey; and Stephen Kinkead, managing director, Winterhalter UK.
As the 2017 KP of the Year winner, Nunez wins the coveted KP of the Year trophy, £1,000 cash and a celebratory meal with friends and family in a casual-dining restaurant of his choice. The Stafford will receive one of Winterhalter's warewash products worth up to £8,000.
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