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The Rising Star Award was launched this year to recognise outstanding individuals at the start of their career in foodservice.
It is designed to celebrate those who achieve remarkable things within their role and business. Those who have made this year's shortlist exemplify that determination and drive. In a strong field, Alex Borley stood out as one to watch, demonstrating a maturity and expertise that belies his years.
Borley joined BaxterStorey having graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a first-class degree in hospitality management in 2016. His first role was mobilising Virgin Atlantic, managing a team of 28 when he was just 24. Having impressed the senior team with his natural leadership skills, he was soon moved to British American Tobacco as head chef (having previously worked as junior sous chef at gas company Gazprom), responsible for 800 covers a day.
With obvious talents in operations and delivery, Borley was spotted by senior management and offered a rare opportunity to run his own location from the ground up. Co-working space Rocketspace was an empty shell when Borley took it on, with a tiny kitchen and no ovens. He built a team of seven within three months, turning over £1,500 daily with up to 400 covers.
In May 2018 Borley took on BaxterStorey's flagship contract at Channel 4, running the site as general manager. It was a big step for both the business and Borley himself, but it paid off due to his drive and ability. He met the client during the interview process and convinced them that, despite his age and experience, he was the right person for the job.
Having masterminded a successful refurbishment at the site, Borley and his team secured a contract extension for more than two years. It was a key win for the business and much of the credit went to Borley.
Borley has introduced a ‘Thirsty Thursday' themed bar night at Channel 4, with events including a summer party featuring rapper Big Narstie, silent discos, nitro espresso martini pop-ups, drag events to celebrate LGBT month and stand-up comedy featuring Dane Baptiste. Each event drives additional sales of £1,000.
Moreover, Borley is passionate about giving back to a programme that rewarded him. He continues to be involved with Oxford Brookes University and Westminster College, attending recruitment days and most recently speaking at a careers event with up to 200 students.
A worthy inaugural winner of the Rising Star Award, Borley has the knack of being liked, be it by his team, customers and clients, while being firm and driven. He is an exciting leader who inspires other graduates and young managers, while having his finger firmly on the pulse of hospitality. Clearly one to watch.
What the judges said
"I was impressed by Alex's resilience in an obviously demanding environment. It's an impressive entry with emotional intelligence and a maturity of leadership clearly evident."
Allister Richards, managing director, Gather & Gather
"Alex's was the stand-out entry. He showed exceptional engagement and an impressive ability to stay on top of trends."
Claire Aylward, joint managing director, Harrison Catering
Alex Borley, BaxterStorey
Haben Ghirmai, Delaware North
Robbie Laidlaw, The Genuine Dining Co
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