Tomasz Kruslinski a sous chef at the Coppid Beech hotel in Bracknell, Berkshire, part of Nike Group Hotels, received an outstanding achiever award in June in recognition of his "hard graft and willingness to go the extra mile".
Not bad for a Polish-born chef who had travelled to the UK in April 2003 to learn a new language, work in a new kitchen environment and experience a different style of food.
It was the progress he had made learning English as well as his dedication and commitment to the job that garnered him numerous nominations from members of the hotel management team and led to his triumph.
However, Kruslinski is modest about that particular success, suggesting other young chefs should simply try to be "as open-minded and willing to learn ways of doing new things as possible".
After achieving a restaurant cooking certificate at catering school in Poland at the end of the eighties, Kruslinski spent the next 14 years building his skills at restaurants in his homeland, serving mainly Polish cuisine, before looking abroad for inspiration.
His advice to budding young chefs is simple. "Learn your trade, especially the basics, and always listen to your mentor," he says.
Although the working practices and environment at the Coppid Beech hotel are similar to those in Poland, Kruslinski admits the operation is much bigger, with several outlets served by the one kitchen.
Starting as junior sous chef, Kruslinski won promotion to his current position in August last year. "I've learnt a lot of new techniques and how to handle much more responsibility," he says of his UK experience.
Ready for another challenge, he's moving to another employer soon to try his hand at working on an even larger scale. However, it's clear he has valued his time at Coppid Beech. "The days are often long but they're very rewarding. I've learnt how to manage a team, their workload and my own," he says.