Italian-born Caggianese, who finished in second place last year, was presented with his award at a ceremony held at London’s Corinthia Hotel last night, at which four industry personalities were inducted into the Academy of Food and Wine Service’s Restaurant Manager Hall of Fame.
They included Fred Sirieix of Galvin at Windows, Enzo Cassini of Zafferano, Roberto Veneruzzo of Locanda Locatelli and Richard Shepherd of Lagan’s Brasserie, all of whom were praised for their commitment to the industry.
Caggianese had competed against six other finalists in a day-long battle for the title, completing a wine and food matching exercise, a wine knowledge test and a training scenario where they demonstrated the correct way to lay a table to a new member of staff.
Finalists were also requested to present a business plan for their own restaurant concept, including a marketing plan, profit and loss forecast for the first three years and a proposal for staffing and training.
The panel of judges, featuring Peter Avis of the Roof Gardens at Babylon restaurant, Silvano Giraldin, formerly of Le Gavroche and Ronan Sayburn of Hotel du Vin, deemed Caggianese the winner after being impressed by his passionate personality.
“Michele has great food & beverage experience, is larger than life and will be a good role model for other restaurant managers. He has a real edge and a confidence that is inspiring to others,” said Conor O’Leary, chairman of judges and director of food and beverage at the Hyatt Regency London.
Paul Shanahan, assistant food and beverage director at London Syon Park Waldorf Astoria, was named runner-up in what was described as a close competition.
“Paul was extremely strong technically and his knowledge of food and wine was impressive. We hope to see him back next year,” added O’Leary.
The other finalists were Damien Bastiat, restaurant manager at Gidleigh Park, Devon; Nicolas Chesneau, restaurant manager at La Becasse, Ludlow, Shropshire; Shaun Corrigan, restaurants manager at The Grand Jersey; Markus Ludewig, restaurant manager at One Aldwych, London; and Peter McAlister, brasserie manager at Malmaison Hotel, Belfast.
Caggianese wins a week-long stage in New York at one of restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group sites, while Jumeirah Carlton Tower receives a 12-month subscription to sponsors OpenTable’s reservation system.
Shanahan was awarded with a place on a course at L’Ecole Hoteliere Lausanne in Switzerland, courtesy of the Savoy Educational Trust.
Previous winners of the Restaurant Manager of the Year award include David Hennigan, formerly of the Crown at Whitebrook, and Peter Avis.