Following a nationwide search to find a rising star in the hospitality industry, James Fleming, 24, Chef de Rang at Raymond Blanc‘s Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, has been crowned the winner of the Gold Service Scholarship 2014. Claridge’s hosted a glittering ceremony last night, where James was recognised for his enthusiasm in providing the ultimate front of house restaurant experience.
James (pictured with the Institute’s chief executive Peter Ducker FIH) will now receive 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. As an ambassador for the scholarship, James will be a leading example of a successful career in front of house hospitality and will encourage people to celebrate the importance of great service.
Ahead of yesterday’s ceremony, seven finalists battled it out at The Connaught, Mayfair in a final attempt to impress the elite judging panel. Edward Griffiths FIH, Deputy Master of the Household at Buckingham Palace, and Alastair Storey FIH, Chairman of lead sponsor BaxterStorey, were among the lunch guests who helped select James as the winner. James stood out for his expertise in welcoming and engaging with customers, preparing and delivering exceptional service, and the sommelier skills of food and wine pairing.
Alastair Storey FIH, Chairman of 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.”
Willy Bauer FIH OBE, 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.”
James, winner of the Gold Service Scholarship 2014, said: “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. 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.”
As part of his award, James receives a year’s membership of the Institute of Hospitality.
The next Gold Service Scholarship competition will be open for entries in September 2014. Please visit www.thegoldservicescholarship.co.uk for more information.