Five candidates have been shortlisted for the first Réunion des Gastronomes Award, from the UK's oldest culinary organisation.
The shortlist comprises Yacine Bezegouche, restaurant and bar manager at the Hilton London Bankside; Sonal Clare, restaurant manager at Purnell's in Birmingham; Paul Clarkson, head chef trainer at the Clink restaurant at HMP Brixton in London; Raul Martinez, brasserie manager at the Arts Club in London; and Brian White, F&B manager at the Victory Services Club in London.
From an interview process, a maximum of three finalists will be selected. The finalists will be invited by panel members to be their guest at one of the monthly events organised by the Gastronomes. There will then be a further interview by the panel, from which a decision will be made on the winner.
All finalists will be invited to the organisation's annual banquet in November, at which the winner will be announced. The winner will receive four two-day placements (or stages) with expenses covered across different industry sectors. They will also receive invitations to attend five Gastronome events in the year after the award, as well as mentoring and networking opportunities throughout from the membership, and associate membership of the Réunion des Gastronomes for up to four years.
Open to applicants of any age, the award aims to mentor professionals while encouraging them to progress in their careers and nurture talent.
The judging panel comprised Alison Frith, managing director of Artizian Catering; hospitality consultant Theresa Maw; Wally Vincent, executive secretary designate of the Master Innholders, vice-president of the Réunion and chair of the judges; and John Cousins, director of the Food and Beverage Training Company.
Serge Pradier, president of the Réunion des Gastronomes, said: "We were very pleased with the number, and calibre of entrants. Especially considering it is the first year of our new award.
"The shortlisted candidates have been invited to meet the panel in person for individual interviews later this month at the Institute of Directors, where they will be welcomed by me. Afterwards they will enjoy a reception and lunch and will be given a tour of the IoD.
"The total prize value for the winner is believed to be worth in excess of £3,000, but the mentoring and potential career enhancement he will be offered as a result of his prize is priceless."
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