Acorn winners 2017: Helen Hutchinson

09 June 2017 by
Acorn winners 2017: Helen Hutchinson

General manager, Newmarket Racecourse, Jockey Club Catering

Nominated by Nick Campbell, managing director

Proudest moment "Hosting and theming the Investec Derby festival around the Queen's 90th birthday. A lot of planning and research went into the F&B and decorations and it was amazing to see it all come together."

Greatest inspiration "Different people at different times. I've always loved learning, seeing things from a new perspective and being inspired by an individual's dedication to their craft."

Ambition "I am passionate about wine, so my dream would be to own a vineyard. More realistically, I would love to work for an F&B design company, looking at new concepts for retail brands and trends."

A rapid series of promotions has marked out Helen Hutchinson's impressive career path. She started as a hospitality manager at Kempton Park Racecourse in 2009 and, in two years, had become operations manager, overseeing a multimillion-pound redevelopment and helping to grow sales by £130,000 in one year.

By 2014, she was at Epsom Downs Racecourse, managing a £4m F&B contract. Most notably, she oversaw 1,500 temporary staff at the Epsom Derby in 2016 and unveiled a concept with all-day cocktails, food and entertainment that scooped £1.9m in just two days. She was then promoted to general manager at Newmarket Racecourse, managing a £6m F&B contract. She oversees a team of 20, rising to 1,000 on event days.

Her initiatives include a mobile pre-ordering app at Epsom Downs and Newmarket, and she also drove the company's relationship with chef Albert Roux, rolling out Chez Roux hospitality at Cheltenham, Epsom and Newmarket.

Having completed WSET level 3, Hutchinson now develops wine menus for the 15 racecourses. Under her mentorship, 50 employees have achieved WSET levels 1 and 2.

Outside her day job, she has played a key role in establishing a culinary partnership with South Thames College, enabling students to gain practical experience at the racecourses.

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