Following a nationwide search to find hospitality’s next ‘rising star’, 24-year-old assistant head waiter Fleming picked up his accolade last night (10 February) at a glittering awards ceremony held at Claridge’s.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be the Scholar for 2014 and to follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner Rebecca Dibben,” said Fleming. “I’m excited to embark on the many fantastic placements afforded by the scholarship and to work alongside industry greats, who I never thought I would meet, let alone work with.
“I hope that the Scholarship inspires others to pursue a career in such a dynamic and rewarding industry.”
In what was the second year of the front-of-house awards, Fleming beat off stiff competition from seven other finalists from the likes of The Fat Duck, Gleneagles and The Ritz. He eventually wowed the judges with his 'customer engagement, preparation and exceptional service skills’.
Alastair Storey, chairman of the Scholarship’s lead sponsor BaxterStorey, said: “We have a talented industry full of creativity and passion, which we celebrate through the Scholarship. It’s gifted individuals like James and our other entrants who help to create memorable dining-out experiences and they are the future rising stars of Britain’s restaurants.”
Raising the bar
Willy Bauer, founder of the Gold Service Scholarship and chairman of AB Hotels, added: “I’m delighted that James was chosen as the Scholar for 2014. His passion and enthusiasm is exactly what this industry is all about and his ability to provide an impeccable, seamless service is second to none.
“This competition is all about giving young people the opportunity to learn among some of the best in the business to ensure that ultimately, front-of-house professionals continue to raise the bar in hospitality and the customer service experience.”
Le Manoir's chef de rang Fleming wins a year of expert mentoring from industry greats such as Diego Masciaga at The Waterside Inn and Emmanuel Landre and Silvano Giraldin at Le Gavroche. He will have the opportunity to work with the Royal Household at the State Banquet, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in Europe and visit Champagne to enhance his skills in all aspects of front-of-house service and customer experience.
The Gold Service Scholarship was launched last year to help inspire a generation of front-of-house professionals. Open to anyone working in the UK in any aspect of restaurant service, including hotels, restaurants, contract catering, licensed hospitality and clubs aged 22 to 30, it aims to boost the profile of front-of-house careers and raise standards among those working in that area.
The next Gold Service Scholarship competition will be open for entries in September 2014. Please visit www.thegoldservicescholarship.co.uk for more information.