Eight of the industry's brightest young front-of-house stars have a week to know their fate after battling it out yesterday in the final of the Gold Service Scholarship 2016.
Held at London's Connaught hotel, the event saw the finalists serve a three-course lunch to leading industry professionals. See the photos here. The winner will be announced at a glittering presentation ceremony at Claridge's hotel next Tuesday and will look ahead to enjoy a tally of bespoke prizes including work placement opportunities at Buckingham Palace and with Mandarin Oriental.
Sophia Warland, one of this year's national finalists, said: "The national final was a fantastic opportunity to serve a meal and showcase my skills to some leading industry figures. It was an amazing day and I enjoyed every minute of it."
Alastair Storey, chairman of the Trustees and chairman of BaxterStorey, lead sponsor of the Gold Service Scholarship, said: "We have been thrilled with the quality of candidates in this year's competition and we will have a tough task to choose the final winner."
Willy Bauer, founder of the Gold Service Scholarship and chairman of AB Hotels, added: "It has been an exciting competition from start to finish and the national final has really demonstrated the high level of talent that exists in the hospitality industry.
"We have been delighted with the level of support we have received from across the industry including our lead sponsor Baxter Storey as well as Buckingham Palace, Claridge's, the Connaught, Restaurant Associates and the Gosling Foundation."
The winner will follow in the footsteps of the inaugural winner of the event in 2013, Rebecca Dibben, now working in recruitment; James Fleming, reception supervisor, the Berkeley hotel, London (2014); and Daniele Quattromini, manager at Club Lounge 39 in Canary Wharf (2015).
The national finalists were:
- Sophia Warland, RAF Odiham, Hampshire
- Christoph Schrottenbaum, Dinner at Heston Blumenthal, London
- Tom Noller, Sexy Fish, London
- Stephanie Beresforde, Scott's Restaurant, London
- James Parums, Buckingham Palace, London
- Jennifer Santner, Sky Garden, London
- Innes Haywood, L'Enclume, Cumbria
- Charlie Lee, Fera at Claridge's, London