BigHospitality, official media supporter of the competition, caught up with judges and mentors, Roganic head chef Ben Spalding and front-of-house consultant Esher Williams to find out their top tips to get noticed and why taking the time to enter industry competitions can benefit your career.
What makes someone a ‘hot talent’ in your opinion?
Ben: Someone with a great attitude towards work and who is respectful of everything they do. They will also need to show drive and a determination to win. I’ll also be looking for someone with a strong video presentation.
Esher: A person with dedication, passion and an understanding of what it is that guests want from us as service professionals. From the entries I’d like to see examples and testimonies of their work ethic as well as how they intend to develop themselves.
Why should someone bother to enter the competition?
Ben: I won the first competition I entered (City College Chef of the Year) and my prize was a month’s work experience at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. That started everything and I got some invaluable experience working there. If I hadn’t won maybe I wouldn’t have got to where I am now.
Competitions are a massive learning curve for people. They take you out of your comfort zone and challenge you, but it’s not just that, it’s being involved in something outside your work. This competiton is part of Hotelympia, so having your name associated with an event of that scale can only help raise your profile in the industry.
Esher: There are still a number of opportunities being missed by young people in our industry. It’s about having a hunger to explore unusual avenues. Taking part in as much as you can, networking with others and getting your face known to industry leaders are all integral to succeeding.
You may not always see the immediate benefit of something straight away however continuous improvement of yourself and your style is a solid way of standing out. Hard work always shows.
What do you think of current standards among the under-30s in the industry?
Esher: I believe we have come a long way in recent years however there is still a gap to be filled. I find it rather hit and miss around the country as to whether you will receive good service or not. I travel a lot with my work and am always assessing the service that I and others around me receive. There are still a great deal of establishments missing service opportunities and not understanding the value and benefits of providing excellent service.
Ben: I tend to look at things from a Michelin-starred perspective, but there are a lot of restaurants around the country that are doing some great things. There are signs of talent everywhere, but sometimes people need that extra bit of confidence to show through and that’s why competitions like this can help increase their confidence and raise standards.
Are you under 30 and working in the hospitality industry? Do you think you're a Hot Talent or do you work with someone who is one? To enter or nominate a candidate visit the Hot Talent section on the Hotelympia website for details. The competition closes on Friday 13 January.