As the closing date for entries into the Restaurant Manager of the Year approaches, we reveal who will be judging the final in January 2018. We are delighted to reveal three new judges who will help find the next big name in hospitality. Romain Pottier from Rhubarb, Paul Hurren FIH from Lusso and the current title holder, Matthew Mawtus from Pollen Street Social join an already prestigious list of names. John Cousins will be the chair of judges for the final and joining him on the expert panel is: –
- Alper Zan
- Rory Kelly-Naughton
- Stephane Davaine
- Chantelle Nicholson
- Johanna Wimmer
- Ian Sturrock
- Ludovic Solmi
- Roy Sommer
What will the judges be looking for to find their next winner? What does it take to be a good restaurant manager? And why should you enter? We caught up with some of the judges to find out more.
Roy Sommer, Chairman of the F&B Managers Association commented: “The Restaurant manager of the Year award highlights the great talent in our industry. Its history has shown many deserved winners from all backgrounds. This award is about the overall package and shows that it doesn’t matter if you work for one of the best hotels in the UK, or for a high street chain. To be an award-winning restaurant manager you need to have everything under control, remain calm, guide your team through service and ensure that guests have the best possible experience. And if they don’t, it’s how restaurant managers deal with the situation that makes them stand out. For those considering entering, there is nothing to be afraid of. You will take away a lot from the day itself which will help you in your career. Previous winners have included people from contract catering, high street and Michelin restaurants, private members clubs and hotels. Everyone has as much chance as each other to take this title.”
Rory Kelly-Naughton, hotels divisional manager at Evolve Hospitality said: “This is a great opportunity for a UK restaurant manager to show their skills and knowledge to the wider hospitality industry. I am going to be looking for someone with personality, the ability to interact with everyone and a positive attitude. To be a great restaurant manager you must have an ability to cope under pressure, a logical mind set and a great sense of humour. I have been involved in this competition for five years and I have enjoyed seeing how it has developed and how the winners have done in their careers, I look forward to discovering who will take the title next. To anyone who enters the competition, my advice would be to enjoy the experience, make connections with your competitors and judges, be yourself and have fun.”
Reflecting back on his success in 2016, Matthew Mawtus, general manager at Pollen Street Social added: “To be a great restaurant manager you need to know your business inside out, have complete product knowledge, show fairness and a desire to motivate and develop staff, whilst always engaging with your guests. As a judge I am going to be looking for confidence, clarity, warmth, personality and enthusiasm but above all, a genuine love of hospitality.”
Alper Zan, operations manager and hospitality consultant, won the title in 2014 and so he has seen this competition from both sides. He told us: “This is a really special award for our industry because it provides an opportunity to recognise, learn and celebrate the success of front of house managers. It can help influence the next generation as they discover how the UK’s leading managers adapt to exceed guest expectations and help their teams develop. Hospitality is a way of life for me and not just a job. I believe we need to do more to champion front of house service and restaurant managers in our country. It is a privilege to support, learn and influence people who have devoted their life to serve others.”
Romain Pottier, director of restaurants at Rhubarb was delighted to be asked to judge the award this year. He said: “This award provides a great opportunity for talented individuals to challenge themselves in front of a panel of experienced and senior industry experts. It sets the standard of what is expected from a restaurant manager nowadays, exposing them to all areas of our wonderful industry. I will be looking for a natural ability to lead and influence people in a positive way. Candidates must be very well groomed, articulate and clearly passionate about the art of hospitality.”
Restaurant mangers have until the 24th November 2017 to enter this award and the entry form can be completed online at http://www.restaurantmanageroftheyear.co.uk/enter/.
To enter, managers must answer three questions as well as submitting a CV and reference. The best candidates will compete in a final on Monday 8th January 2018.