Michele Caggianese, restaurant and bar manager of London's Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel, has been named the Academy of Food and Wine Service's UK Restaurant Manager of the Year 2011.
Italian-born Caggianese won the title in his second attempt, having finished second last year, after impressing judges with his passion, dedication and charisma. He was presented with the award at a ceremony held at the Corinthia Hotel London last night.
He beat six other managers in the final, during which contestants were asked to complete a food-and-wine matching exercise, a wine knowledge test and a training scenario demonstrating the correct way to lay a restaurant table to a new member of staff. The finalists also had to present a business plan for their own restaurant concept to a Dragon's Den-style panel of judges.
Runner-up was Paul Shanahan, assistant food and beverage director at the new London Syon Park, Waldorf Astoria hotel.
"Michele has great food and beverage experience, is larger than life and will be a good role model for other restaurant managers. He has a real edge and a confidence that is inspiring to others," said chairman of the judges Conor O'Leary.
As part of his prize Caggianese has won a week in New York to complete a stage at one of restaurateur Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group properties. The runner-up receives a place on a course at L'Ecole Hôtelière Lausanne, courtesy of the Savoy Educational Trust.
The UK Restaurant Manager of the Year competition is supported by Hospitality Benchmark through the National Skills Academy for Hospitality, the Savoy Educational Trust and sponsored by OpenTable.com. Previous winners are David Hennigan, formerly of the Crown at Whitebrook, and Peter Avis, restaurant manager of Babylon restaurant, London.
The seven finalists for 2011 were:
Damien Bastiat, restaurant manager, Gidleigh Park, Devon
Michele Caggianese, restaurant & bar manager, Jumeirah Carlton Tower, London (winner)
Nicolas Chesneau, restaurant manager, La Becasse, Ludlow, Shropshire
Shaun Corrigan, restaurants manager, The Grand Jersey
Markus Ludewig, restaurant manager, One Aldwych, London
Peter McAlister, brasserie manager, Malmaison Hotel, Belfast
Paul Shanahan, assistant food & beverage director, London Syon Park, Waldorf Astoria (runner up)
By Kerstin Kühn
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