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Finalists announced for People 1st International-sponsored AA College Restaurant of the Year 2024

Participants at the AA College Restaurant of the Year 2024

Three college restaurants have been shortlisted in the AA College Restaurant of the Year 2024, sponsored by People 1st International, following a day-long competition held at The Grand Hotel Birmingham on 20 June 2024.

The three shortlisted finalists are:

  • Senara (Truro & Penwith College – Penwith Campus)
  • Spires (Truro & Penwith College – Truro Campus)
  • The Classroom (Cardiff & Vale College)

College teams attending the judging day took part in an activity to present their ideas on how businesses can attract and retain their people. As future talent in the industry, they were asked to consider four key areas:

  • Recruitment
  • Benefits
  • Learning & Development Approach
  • Employee Satisfaction

Teams were interviewed by a judging panel of industry experts who were extremely impressed with the overall quality of the presentations.

Judges included:

  • Simon Numphud, Managing Director, AA Hotel and Hospitality Services
  • Charlotte Horler, Hotel Manager, The Grand Hotel Birmingham
  • Lisa Jenkins, Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Culinary Arts
  • Adam Bateman, Executive Chef, The Pan Pacific London
  • Dan Barnes, Founder & Managing Director, Flourish Hospitality

Lisa Jenkins, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Academy of Culinary Arts comments:

“The 2024 College Restaurant of the Year final presentations were inspiring, and it is crucial that we, as an industry, listen to these young people (and their lecturers) to make sure we can continue to rely on them to keep hospitality moving.”

Dan Barnes, Flourish Hospitality adds:

“The work that the colleges are doing to prepare the next generation for a career in hospitality is a sight to see. I was incredibly impressed with all the students that I met. They were all smart, engaged, warm, genuine and friendly. Hearing their thoughts on how the industry can retain talent was also inspirational. All their presentations should be published in an article to the industry, creating a blueprint for future talent engagement and retention.”

Charlotte Horler, Hotel Manager, The Grand Hotel Birmingham adds:

“It was an honour to both host and support in judging this year’s awards at The Grand Hotel, Birmingham. Seeing the genuine passion for hospitality and the insight of the young people we have hot on our heels was inspiring and humbling.

“We were delighted to find the judging quite challenging due to the strong calibre of entries we received, it was a tricky decision to reach. I look forward to seeing the colleges and individual students continue to progress through their hospitality careers and I am delighted to be on the side-lines cheering the future of hospitality on as they continue to further shape our wonderful industry!”

As well as a behind-the-scenes tour of The Grand Hotel, participants were treated to an inspirational talk by guest speaker Stuart Deely, Head Chef of 3 AA Rosette-restaurant Smoke at Hampton Manor. The students also took part in a cake decorating competition with the chef of The Grand Hotel and a barista masterclass from Paddy & Scotts.

Andy Doyle, Partnerships Manager at People 1st International comments:

“The competition is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the colleges that are leading the way in training future talent and cultivating their passion for the industry. The entries received this year were extremely high quality, demonstrating the high calibre of students. Congratulations to the finalists and well done to all that took part.”

The AA College Restaurant of the Year award is open to colleges that have received accreditation from People 1st International – a stamp of approval that recognises colleges that deliver excellent full-time hospitality qualifications – and that also hold an AA College Rosette for their restaurant.

The winner of the AA College Restaurant of the Year award will be announced at the annual AA Hospitality Awards dinner on 23 September at Grosvenor House, London.

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