Paul Taylor, general manager of TGI Friday’s, Luton, was given the first ever Food Service award at a ceremony in London’s Vintners’ Hall. Meanwhile Jason Wright, general manager of Brasserie Blanc Opera Terrace in London’s Covent Garden, took the Wine Service prize - also new for this year.
Wright was credited with helping develop good levels of service and wine knowledge at the recently-opened restaurant and Taylor was praised for being able to inspire new team members to adopt his high level of service standards.
Improving high streets
"These two new awards really reflect what the Academy is all about – excellence in front of house service," AFWS vice chairman Paul Breach said after handing out the prizes.
"We have two worthy winners of the first of these awards, picked from six sector winners, and it’s a reflection of improving levels of service in the UK’s hospitality sector that both of these winners are from high street chains."
The Academy, established in 1988, also handed out its first Diamond Award to Peter Hancock, Pride of Britain Hotels chief executive, while Laura Rhys, head sommelier at Hotel TerraVina won the AWFS Award for Excellence and De Vere Hotels won the Company of the Year title.
Hancock was the first recipient of the Diamond Award because the AFWS said he was an: "outstanding personality in the UK hotel and catering industry who has done much to promote the industry and encourage those within it."
The full list of award winners in the AFWS 2012 Annual Awards for Excellence:
- AFWS Award for Excellence: Laura Rhys, head sommelier, Hotel TerraVina
- Company of the Year Award: De Vere Hotels
- Pub Wine List of the Year: The Swan, Salford
- Virgin Rising Star Award: Amelia Thornhill, The Bell, Fetcham
- The Worshipful Company of Innholders & Maison Louis Latour Sommelier Award: Stefan Neumann, The Fat Duck
- Phillip Thornton Award: Kiri Rayner, The Cavendish London
- L’Academie de Lanson Taste Award: Romain Crozat, Galvin at Windows
- Fine Dining Food Service Award: Luigi Ferrara, The Roof Gardens
- High Street Food Service Award: Paul Taylor, TGI Friday’s, Luton
- Pub Dining Food Service Award: Juliet Stone, The White Lion, Suffolk
- Fine Dining Wine Service Award: Kathrine Larsen, Orrery
- High Street Wine Service Award: Jason Wright, Brasserie Blanc Opera Terrace, London
- Pub Dining Wine Service Award: Rozanne Stringer & Melissa Doyle, The Bear, Oxshott
- AFWS Food Service Award: Paul Taylor, general manager, TGI Friday’s, Luton
- AFWS Wine Service Award: Jason Wright, general manager, Brasserie Blanc Opera Terrace, London
- Diamond Award: Peter Hancock, chief executive, Pride of Britain Hotels
AFWS Fellowships were also presented to Conor O’Leary, director of F&B, Hyatt Regency London; Nigel Wilkinson, Boutinot Wines and Stephen Mannock, Edge Hotel School.