Davie Fleetham, BaxterStorey's kitchen assistant at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) site in Edinburgh, has been announced as the winner of the 2019 KP of the Year competition, organised by The Caterer in partnership with warewasher manufacturer Winterhalter UK.
Fleetham, who has worked for BaxterStorey for 17 years, supports the chef team by baking bread and scones for the customers. He also helps with breakfasts and works on the counters during holiday periods.
The veteran ex-forces kitchen assistant is loved by his customers and was recently awarded the annual RBS Dedication to the Business award. Described by his head chef Jim Jawor as a "kitchen angel", Fleetham ensures all the kitchen equipment is checked daily and flags up any maintenance issues.
Lindsay Turnbull, Fleetham's catering manager and nominator, said: "Davie is our biggest team player and doesn't shy away from any task we throw at him. You can see that from the number of ‘star' and ‘director' awards he's won and the regular customer feedback he receives.
"He's so much more than a KP – he's a complete all-rounder and everyone hates it when he's away on holiday. He's the hub of the catering function at RBS."
Voted for unanimously by the KP of the Year judges, Fleetham impressed with his dedication to his team, with one judge describing him as a "legend."
Stephen Kinkead, managing director of Winterhalter UK, said: "We have seen the quality and quantity of entries improve year-on-year and were once again inundated with entries. Davie shone through from the beginning as a real trouper – someone the entire team respects and recognises."
The judges also announced two highly commended awards to Sam Idubor, chief steward at the RAF Club in London, and Cheryl Macdonald, kitchen porter at Jurys Inn, Middlesborough.
The brainchild of Winterhalter UK, the KP of the Year competition launched in 2013 to recognise kitchen porters working in restaurants, pubs, schools, contract catering and hotels across the country.
The judging panel consisted of Stephen Kinkead, managing director, Winterhalter UK; Lisa Jenkins, products and suppliers editor, The Caterer (chair); James Horler, chief executive of Ego Restaurants; Richard Davies, executive chef of Calcot Manor in Tetbury; Sara Jayne Stanes, chief executive, the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts; Hayden Groves, executive chef, BaxterStorey; Elizabeth Raine, general manager of Crathorne Hall hotel; and Mark Lewis, chief executive of Hospitality Action.
Kinkead and Jenkins surprised Fleetham at the BaxterStorey contract with news of his success at a gathering organised by Turnbull, allowing his colleagues to join in his celebration.
On presentation of his winning trophy, Fleetham said: "Are you serious? I can't believe I've won. To be shortlisted in the top 10 was fantastic. But this is such a surprise. I've achieved a lot in my job recently and this award tops it off."
Jawor added: "I've worked with Davie for over a year now and its been a pleasure to see how his kitchen skills have developed. I've just been able to stand back and let him develop his own bread recipes and watch him grow."
As the 2019 KP of the Year winner, Fleetham wins the coveted KP of the Year trophy, £1,000 cash and a celebratory meal with friends and family in a casual-dining restaurant of his choice. BaxterStorey will receive one of Winterhalter's warewash products worth up to £8,000.
This year, BaxterStorey has matched Fleetham's prize money, organised by Neil Bird, operations director for BaxterStorey and Caroline Bacigalupo, operations manager, BaxterStorey, Scotland & North.
The judges look for kitchen porters who demonstrate that they are going above and beyond their day job, with good integration within the front of house and kitchen teams and evidence of 'going the extra mile'.
Every kitchen porter put forward will receive a KP of the Year bespoke Oliver Hardy apron from Winterhalter UK and the three highly commended will also receive a cash prize.
For more information on the KP of the Year competition visit http://www.kpoftheyear.com/