And if their decisions are anything to go by, the best service levels are not exclusive to restaurants in London; 15 of the Gold Service Scholarship finalists are from establishments outside of the capital; three are from gastropubs; three are sommeliers/bartenders and two are from University catering.
Fred Sirieix, general manager of Galvin at Windows; Willy Bauer, chairman of AB Hotels and John Davey from his eponymous restaurant consultancy are among those behind the scholarship,with the two regional finals taking place in Birmingham and London in January.
Chairman of the Gold Service Scholarship judges Edward Griffiths said: “We had a tough job on our hands today and I took the decision to increase the allocated number of finalists in recognition of such a high number of excellent entries.”
The Regional Finalists are:
- Marco Adreani – The Pass, South Lodge Hotel (chef de rang)
- Matthew Balman – Lower Slaughter Manor (restaurant manager)
- Jenna Beech – University of Birmingham (assistant manager)
- Emma Bell – Keele University (catering supervisor)
- Niall Burns – Hastings Hotels (trainee manager)
- Robert Clark – The Doric – (assistant manager)
- Frances Grace Croly – The Sportsman (trainee assistant manager)
- Romain Crozat – Galvin at Windows (sommelier)
- Daniel Crump - Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (chef de rang)
- Ivo De Beus – Claridge’s Hotel (bartender)
- Rebecca Dibben – Gleneagles Hotel (restaurant supervisor)
- Hayri Dogan – The Rib Room (senior waiter)
- Stuart Dolby – Ockenden Manor Hotel (assistant restaurant manager)
- Steven Driscoll – The Berkeley (graduate trainee food and beverage)
- James Fleming – Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons (chef de rang)
- Devid Isabella – The Ritz (assistant restaurant manager)
- Jonathan Kent – The Savoy Hotel (back-of-house supervisor)
- Stuart McIvor – Galvin at Windows (head waiter)
- Wojciech Pastor – The Gleneagles Hotel (head waiter)
- Ben Robinson – Le Manoir aux Qaut’Saisons (sommelier de rang)
- Pawel Skrzpinski – Hogarth’s Hotel, Dorridge (fine-dining assistant manager)
- Stephanie Srey – Galvin at Windows (chef de rang)
- Katharina Stritzelberger – Galvin at Windows (head waiter)
- Amelia Thornhill – The Bell at Fetcham (restaurant manager)
- Sam Ward – L’Enclume (restaurant manager)
The heats take place at University College Birmingham on Friday 11 January and University of West London on Tuesday 15 January. At the regional final, as well as an interview-style meeting with the judges each competitor will undertake a series of individual tasks to test their knowledge and skill across different aspects of food and beverage service.
Sergio Rebecchi, managing director of Chez Nico Restaurants and one of the judges for the Gold Service Scholarship, said: “I’m excited by the high calibre of entrants from so many different establishments and backgrounds, great service exists everywhere; from a three-Michelin-starred restaurant to a gastropub or a university campus. We’ve seen so much potential today, it’s wide open - anyone can win.”
Fellow judge Danielle Thomson, general manager of Scott’s restaurant, added:“It’s great to see over a quarter of the finalists are female, this can be a tough business but it is so rewarding. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone at the next stage, technical skills can be learned but it’s their demeanour and approach with people that will make the difference to me.”
The winning prize will include work experience with several of the above mentors at their establishments. It will also mean a trip to a famous vineyard or champagne house with another of the mentors and visits to restaurants to discuss food and wine pairing.
Last week BigHospitality reported that Sirieix is also calling on the entire hospitality industry to back his latest initiative - National Waiters' Day- to celebrate hard-working waiting staff.