Now in its seventh year, the search is on for the 2019 Kitchen Porter of the Year.
Organised by The Caterer, in partnership with warewash specialist Winterhalter, the competition has gone from strength to strength over the last six years, attracting hundreds of entries across all sectors of hospitality for the ultimate crown of KP of the Year.
Aleks Riitmaa from Hand Picked Hotels' Crathorne Hall in North Yorkshire was the 2018 Kitchen Porter of the Year. Riitmaa was praised for his loyalty to his team, having been with Crathorne Hall for 12 years.
Elizabeth Raine, general manager at Crathorne Hall, said "It was wonderful; the whole thing made everyone happy and there was plenty of laughter as we all remembered the amusing anecdotes of Aleks over the 12 years he has worked here.
"It was great to be able to share the news that Aleks had been shortlisted and then even more enjoyable to celebrate him winning! It was a great morale boost for the Crathorne team."
Affectionately known as Father Riitmaas, last year's winning KP lives in staff accommodation close to the hotel and helps with the care and upkeep of the 15-acre grounds, from looking after compost bins, to caring for the bees and the roses.
His manager Alan Robinson, executive head chef of Crathorne Hall, added: "Aleks does so many thoughtful things for the team in the kitchen and back of house. He inspires others and knows everyone's names. He hand scrubs areas of the kitchen other KPs don't even know about!"
Stephen Kinkead, managing director of Winterhalter UK, said: "The quality and quantity of entries improves year on year and we were completely overwhelmed last year. The hardest part of our judging day is getting a top 10, but Aleks shone through as a winner from the start!"
Last year the judges also announced the presentation of three highly commended awards to Suhail Ahmed from the Social Pantry, London; David Gadsby from BaxterStorey, London; and Martyn Dickers from Cardiff Marriott hotel.
Click here to enter the 2019 Kitchen Porter of the Year competition, and do let us know who you have nominated on Twitter with hashtag #kpoftheyear2019!
The brainchild of Winterhalter UK, the KP of the Year competition launched in 2013 to recognise kitchen porters working in restaurants, pubs, schools, contract catering and hotels across the country.
The prize package for the competition includes: the coveted KP of the Year trophy; £1,000 cash; and a celebratory meal with friends and family in a casual-dining restaurant of the winning KP's choice. The winning KP's employer will be rewarded with one of Winterhalter's warewash products worth up to £8,000.
The judging panel for the 2019 KP of the Year competition consists of: Stephen Kinkead, managing director, Winterhalter UK; Lisa Jenkins, products and suppliers editor, The Caterer (chair); James Horler, chief executive of Ego Restaurants and chairman of Cartwheel Recruitment, Notes Music & Coffee and Ping Pong; Richard Davies, executive chef, Calcot Manor hotel in Tetbury; Sara Jayne Stanes, chief executive, the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts; Hayden Groves, executive chef, BaxterStorey; Brian O'Hannon, co-founder and director of Super 8 Restaurants, owners of Kiln in Soho, Smoking Goat and Brat in Shoreditch; Mark Lewis, chief executive, Hospitality Action; and Elizabeth Raine, general manager, Crathorne Hall hotel, North Yorkshire.
The judges look for kitchen porters who demonstrate that they are going above and beyond their day job, with good integration within the front of house and kitchen teams and evidence of "going the extra mile".
Every kitchen porter entered will receive a KP of the Year bespoke Oliver Hardy apron from Winterhalter UK and highly commended finalists (if chosen) will also receive a cash prize.
For more information on the competition including pictures and comments from past winners, visit Winterhalter's dedicated KP of the year website.