Swales, who oversees catering for players and directors at the Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre in Enfield, beat seven other finalists to the title after impressing judges with her creativity and capability.
“Janine is the consummate restaurant manager - she has strong interpersonal and technical skills, she is creative, capable and business-minded. She ticked every box for the panel of judges,” said chairman of judges Peter Avis, restaurant manager at Babylon, Roof Gardens, and former winner of the title.
Born in South Africa, Swales studied foodservice management at the University of Cape Town before coming to the UK. Her previous work experience includes a stint at London’s Le Caprice as a commis chef, before embarking on a career in management. She joined BaxterStorey seven years ago.
She said: "I'm so chuffed. I really didn't see that coming."
Restaurant manager skills
Swales, who narrowly beat runner-up Stephen Morrison of La Vallée Blanche, Glasgow, to the top spot, completed a number of tasks at the Westbury Hotel in London with other finalists yesterday, including a Dragon’s Den-style scenario in which the competitors pitched a business plan for their own pop-up restaurant, a restaurant scenario with difficult customers to deal with, and a challenging food and wine matching exercise.
John Croft, executive director of the AFWS, said: “We are delighted to have Janine as our titleholder this year, she will be a fantastic ambassador for the Academy and for the profession. It was particularly pleasing to receive entries from a wide range of establishments from across the board including pubs, foodservice, casual dining and fine dining. The skills of the restaurant manager apply to any establishment, regardless of which sector they operate in and the competition now reflects this.”
The UK Restaurant Manager of the Year is organised by the Academy of Food & Wine Service and sponsored by Livebookings. The competition sets out to find Britain’s top restaurant manager who can not only demonstrate top-class people skills and service skills, but also possesses good business knowledge, management skills and the ability to think on their feet.
As part of her prize Swales wins a stage in some of Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group of restaurants in New York and the winning business also gets a 12-month subscription to Livebookings.
Runner-up Morrison receives a place at the renowned business summer school run by the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, sponsored by the Savoy Educational Trust.