Peter Avis, restaurant manager at Babylon Restaurant at the Roof Gardens, in London, is a previous winner of the Academy of Food and Wine Service's Restaurant Manager of the Year award, chairman of the Guild of UK Restaurants and head judge on this year's panel. He tells Janie Manzoori-Stamford about the importance of recognising the front-of-house role in hospitality
The Restaurant Manager of the Year competition has been running for five years now. What prompted its launch and how has it evolved since?
The Academy of Food and Wine Service founded this great award as it felt that the role of restaurant manager needed to be seen and regarded as a serious career choice, especially here in the UK.
Since I won the award back in 2009 I feel that things have really moved forward. We see more and more managers entering for the award and we have had some great winners over recent years.
I am particularly excited for this year's awards as we are attracting managers from all sectors of restaurants. This outreach is exactly what we wanted, as we know that great managers can come from all sectors of the foodservice industry.
What are you looking for in a winner? We are looking for an individual who works hard, is full of passion and enthusiasm for our sector and is also someone who will put the title to good use by becoming an ambassador to inspire young people to work hard to become a restaurant manager.
Are the efforts of recent years to raise the profile of front of house as credible career choice starting to pay off? Definitely yes, without a shadow of doubt. I was fortunate to be a judge at this year's Acorn Awards and it was so exciting to see so many young people who are taking their role within our sector seriously. We still have a long way to go but we are doing more and more to shine a light on the front-of-house roles and what a success they can be. The Hospitality Guild is a great way to unite the industry and keep moving things forward.
What more needs to be done to encourage young people into a front-of-house hospitality career? We need to make them aware of the advantages of working in our sector and just how rewarding it can be.
I feel collectively we need to demonstrate that these roles can provide the opportunity to travel all over the world, meet amazing people and earn good wages all at the same time. It really is a wonderful profession to be in and something I'm proud to be a small part of. I hope that we will see the perception of hospitality change and that by using other people's stories to inspire young people it will help to achieve this goal.
Is there anything that you do specifically to attract the next generation of hospitality workers? Here at Babylon we bring young people in from my local school in Liverpool down to London to experience the joys of working in the restaurant world. They spend time with my team and see how exciting it can be to work in our sector. When they learn more about how I started out washing dishes and worked my way up into my current role, you can see that little spark in their eyes. I hope that I've helped them to realise that with determination they can make a success of a career in hospitality.
www.restaurantmanageroftheyear.co.uk for details.