The 25-year-old impressed the Gold Service Scholarship judges with her self-assurance, knowledge and professionalism, and won out over eight other finalists, who themselves had been whittled down from more than 100 candidates.
The award was announced at a gala reception at Claridge’s Hotel in London, last night (28 February).
Beresforde was also a finalist in last year’s competition - of which Her Majesty The Queen is patron - but was ultimately beaten to the win by Jennifer Santner.
As part of her prize this year she will receive educational wine and food travel trips, as well as a private lunch at Coutts with her employer and the scholarship trustees, to plan her winning work placements and mentoring sessions.
These will include a three-day placement at Buckingham Palace during a state visit; a two-week WSET wine course; work placements at The Waterside Inn and/or Le Gavroche, and week’s work experience at a Mandarin Oriental hotel in the UK or abroad.
Finalist Ashley Best, 22-year-old food and beverage trainee at The Ritz Hotel, received a special ‘commendation’ from the panel, for his positive attitude, skill set, and potential.
Beresforde has worked at Rick Stein’s since summer 2016, and also worked there for six months in 2014. Before joining the Padstow site, she was chef de rang at Scott’s Restaurant in Mayfair.
This spring, she is set to lead the front-of-house training for Rick Stein’s new restaurant, in Barnes, southwest London.
“The Scholarship is designed to encourage front-of-house as a real career,” says Alastair Storey, chairman of the Scholarship. “[It] helps young people who already have a footing in the service sector to hone their skills and progress their career.”
“Stephanie’s detailed product knowledge and service skills, along with her positive approach to her role at The Seafood Restaurant, identified her as a confident winner and an ideal Scholar,” says Edward Griffiths, trustee and chair of the judges, and chairman of Searcys and Portico.
The Gold Service Scholarship was founded by hotelier Willy Bauer, along with chairman Alastair Storey, of foodservice firm BaxterStorey.
Its six trustees are all hospitality experts, and comprise Griffiths; Sergio Rebecchi, director at Serenata Hospitality; Thomas Kochs, managing director of Hotel Café Royal; Silvano Giraldin, director at Roux Restaurants; Sara Jayne Stanes, chief executive of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts; and John Davey, of the John Davey Consultancy.
The first ever Gold Service scholar was Rebecca Dibben in 2013, followed by James Fleming in 2014, Daniele Quattromini in 2015 and Santner in 2016.
FULL LIST OF 2017 FINALISTS
Stephanie Beresforde – Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant – WINNER
Ashley Best – The Ritz Hotel – special commendation
Alexandra-Iulia Caciuc - 45 Jermyn Street, London
Manuel Marchetti - The Waterside Inn, Bray
Tom Noller - Merchants Tavern, London
Luis Oliveira Santos - Rosewood, London
Alexandra Spatar - The Woodspeen Restaurant & Cookery School, Berkshire
Nina Thomsen - L’Enclume, Cumbria