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Minute on the clock: Kevin Skeet

07 September 2016 by
Minute on the clock: Kevin Skeet

Kevin Skeet is group operations director for Legacy hotels and resorts. Next year, he will take over as chairman of the Champagne Academy. He talks to Katie Pathiaki about the academy, and how running a family-owned restaurant kick-started his career

What it gave me was a real insight; for example, I was in charge of focusing on the bank accounts to make sure there were enough funds at the end of the month to pay everyone's salaries.

At Legacy, we are running a business on behalf of the owner, so my experience of running the restaurant with my father and brother has given me a real grounding for this.

During your time as hotel manager at the Burlington hotel, you hosted the Italian delegation at the 1998 G8 summit. Was this a challenge for you?

It was during a time when Birmingham was going through a re-introduction to the country - the G8 summit was the icing on the cake. It was a big thing for the city and for my career.

It was nerve-wracking; we were the only independent hotel chosen to host one of the major delegations. It was a massive success.

How did you get involved with the Champagne Academy?

I had a basic understanding of the academy, having hosted a dinner. My nomination to join the course was actually blind - to this day I don't know who nominated me but I jumped at the chance to join.

You're becoming chairman of the Champagne Academy in February - you must be pleased?

After completing the course I felt very privileged and wanted to give something back. I took on the role of Midlands dinner chairman in 2008, where I organised events around the Midlands, then vice-chairman this year and I will be chairman in 2017.

What are your plans as chairman?

We have been working to spread awareness of the academy. The academy itself has 600 members and it's unique as the members are from the on-trade and the off-trade. For example, you'll have the general manager of a Waitrose store next to the sommelier of the Vineyard, so there's a big cross-section of the wine industry.

Another change we felt was important was to allow people to put themselves forward to be selected for the course, rather than by blind nomination. There are different ways they can do this, either by attending a regional dinner, or by contacting a Grand Marque Champagne representative in their area.

How do you choose the venues for the Champagne Academy dinners?

The absolute key for me is having a venue that understands the concept behind the dinner. The wines are all provided by the Champagne houses, so the venue doesn't make any significant profit on the wine. But it's a chance for them to show their teams and facilities. We go to a venue and say "we have four wines/Champagnes and we want to write a menu that fits with them fantastically" rather than "here's our budget".

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