The AA Centenary Awards last night celebrated 100 years of quality and service in the hospitality industry in a lavish ceremony that rewarded the cream of the UK’s hotels, pubs and restaurants.
Held at Grosvenor House on Park Lane, the ceremony was attended by some of the biggest names in the industry, with a special dinner whipped up by Marcus Wareing, Raymond Blanc, Tom Aikens, Chris Staines and David Nicholls. The awards were in honour of the hospitality industry’s finest AA-inspected and rated hotels, pubs and restaurants and the excellent services they offer.
The big winner of the night was Rick Stein, who secured the AA Lifetime Achievement Award, an accolade previously won by Albert and Michel Roux. He was presented the award by Saturday Kitchen Host James Martin, who described Stein as being ‘ instrumental in increasing the popularity and most importantly the understanding of fish and seafood to the general public and the hospitality industry.’
Philip Howard, Head Chef and co-owner of The Square in Mayfair was voted for by his peers for outstanding performance and commitment to his profession, to win the Chef’s Chef of the Year Award, a trophy he collected to a standing ovation of the room.
Shaun Hill’s humble Abergavenny restaurant The Walnut Tree received the Restaurant of the year Award for Wales for his impressive, straightforward food and reasonable prices, while Scott’s oyster bar and seafood restaurant was crowned the winner in the London category.
In the hotel categories, luxury four-star chain Q Hotels was awarded the Hotel Group of the Year Award, while Hotel Du Vin, the boutique hotel chain with 13 sites across the country, received the Small Hotel Group of the Year Award.
AA Hotel Services Manager, Simon Numphud (pictured right with Philip Howard), said: “We have seen a lot of outstanding candidates this year and the final decisions have been difficult, but we are confident that the best establishments have been selected, they are all deserving winners and should be acknowledged for their quality and excellence.”
Having inspected hotels and restaurants since 1908, the AA last night also took the opportunity to recognise the establishments that this year have gained new rosettes and red stars. Special commendation was given to Pierre Gagnaire’s Sketch restaurant in London, the only restaurant of the year to have secured five AA rosettes.
The AA have also announced the release of the new look 2009 Restaurant and Hotel guides, and the Bed and Breakfast and pub guides, which will launch on September 30.
The AA Centenary Award winners:
AA Lifetime Achievement Award - Rick Stein
AA Chef’s Chef of the Year Award - Philip Howard
AA Hotel Group of the Year - Q Hotels
AA Small Hotel Group of the Year - Hotel Du Vin
AA Hotel of the Year:
England - Jesmond Dene House, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Tyne & Wear
Scotland - Norton House Hotel, Edinburgh
Wales - Lake Country House Hotel & Spa, Llangammarch
AA Restaurant of the Year:
England - The Royal Oak, Maidenhead, Berkshire
London - Scott`s Restaurant
Scotland - The Kitchin, Edinburgh
Wales - The Walnut Tree, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
AA Pub of the Year:
England - The Queens Arms, Corton Denham, Somerset
Scotland - The Torridon Inn, Torridon
Wales - The Bush Inn, St Hilary
AA Wine Award:
England - Ransome’s Dock, London
Scotland - The Strathearn at Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire
Wales - The Crown at Whitebrook, Whitebrook
AA and Best Practice Forum Business Excellence Award - Gatton Manor Hotel and Golf Club