Every spring Caterer and Hotelkeeper and Unilever Foodsolutions present Acorn Awards to 30 members of the industry aged under 30 who are considered to be the emerging talents of today and the stars of tomorrow. This year, though, the awards had the added dimension of being the Acorns' 21st anniversary. The awards have come of age.
Over the past 20 years Caterer and our co-hosts and sponsor Unilever have recognised 600 of the industry's highest achievers, many of whom have gone on to forge remarkable careers in hospitality. In this issue, we add 30 more winners to the roll of honour.
To celebrate the award winners' success, the magazine and our co-hosts also organise a weekend away for the winners to receive their awards, spend time with one another and cultivate industry contacts in a relaxed and fun environment.
This year, on 29 and 30 April, we went to Exclusive Hotels' Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa in Bagshot, Surrey, where we were expertly hosted by an amazing team, including David Connell, operations manager at Pennyhill Park Julian Tomlin, newly appointed general manager, head of group operations for Exclusive Hotels and Danny Pecorelli, the group's managing director. Meanwhile, back of house, from the hotel's splendid kitchens, executive chef Andrew Turner and chefs Ian Hodgkins and Steven Hubbert led the brigade through two days of fine food. Both teams, front and back of house, were, of course, supported by an army of people who couldn't have done more for the newly crowned Acorns.
Caterer Á¢ÂÂ" were split into groups named after their favourite sleuths, including Dick Tracy, Sherlock Holmes and Columbo. As the new teams were just getting acquainted they were disturbed by some quarrelling lawyers. Then one of them took a swig from his hip-flask, grabbed his chest, and died!
All was not as it seemed, though, as events consultants Team Spirit had organised a murder mystery weekend to test the award winnersÁ¢ÂÂ skills of deduction and enquiry. Team members had to earn their detective school skills by passing a series of tasks ranging from pistol shooting to bomb exploding, as well as getting their teamÁ¢ÂÂs picture taken with a live animal and a member of the Royal Family.
While all the teams passed their detective school tasks, only one team successfully pieced together all the clues from the faux press conference, pathologistÁ¢ÂÂs report and one-to-one questioning to deduce that the lawyerÁ¢ÂÂs wife had poisoned her husband in revenge for his adultery. Team Quincy was presented with medals and plaques at an awards ceremony that night.
The following day saw the official Acorn Awards lunch and presentation ceremony, which took place in the recently refurbished Balmoral Suite, where diners enjoyed a three-course meal comprising sweet and sour chicken soup, dumplings and coconut fillet of Scottish salmon, spring onion mash, baby carrots and sauce sÁÂ©toise and a dessert of lemon tart with vanilla ice-cream. This was followed by a rousing speech and words of encouragement from BaxterStorey deputy chief executive and Oak (formerly the Acorn Club) board member William Baxter.
And the winnersÁ¢ÂÂ¦
Accepting an invitation to join the Acorn Awards judging panel is not a decision that can be taken lightly. This yearÁ¢ÂÂs judges collectively spent more than 144 hours reading 134 entries to discuss further at the judging final, which took place over six long and arduous hours in March at UnileverÁ¢ÂÂs head offices. The list was whittled down to just 30 deserving recipients. Caterer and Unilever would like to thank the judges (listed below) for their enormous contribution to the 2007 Acorn Awards.
Mark Angela, formerly managing director, Greene King Pub Company
David Broadhead, formerly general manager, Pennyhill Park Hotel & Spa
Robert Cook, chief executive, Malmaison Brand and Hotel du Vin
Daniel Courtney, assistant general manager, Calcot Manor and 2006 Acorn Award winner
Ian Crawford, buying and marketing director, 3663 First for Foodservice
Chris Hales, sales director chain accounts, Unilever Foodsolutions
Phil Hooper, corporate affairs director, Sodexho
Martin Shaw, head of catering, Rank Group
Amanda Afiya (chair), deputy editor, Caterer and Hotelkeeper
As the food service business of Unilever UK Foods, Unilever Foodsolutions encompasses some of the worldÁ¢ÂÂs best-performing brands, including Knorr, HellmannÁ¢ÂÂs, Flora, Colemans and PG Tips. We have sponsored the Acorn Awards since its inception 21 years ago, and each year we marvel at the calibre of the young people nominated for the awards.
An Acorn Award is a truly worthy accolade, and the judges were reminded of this once again this year as they made the tough decisions about who would take these prestigious awards. The 30 well-deserved winners were once again exceptional, and it gives me great hope for the industry when I see rising stars such as these young Acorn winners coming through year after year.
As a company, we pride ourselves on nurturing talent and developing individuals within the industry, and what better way to demonstrate this than through our continual commitment to the Acorn Awards? We recognise that investment in people is a core principle of many organisations, and by recognising and rewarding 30 individuals every year we celebrate their hard work and achievements and add value to this dynamic and vibrant industry.
These young people have already achieved a great deal in their short careers and we wish them every success in the future. If past winners are anything to go by, then I am sure we will shortly see their names in the news pages again, and I wish them every success.
Simon Marshall, Managing Director, Unilever Foodsolutions
Caterer and Hotelkeeper and Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa would like to thank the following for their generous support of the 2007 Acorn Awards: Unilever Foodsolutions, Team Spirit, Arthur Rackham Emporia, Blomster Designs, ChamberlainÁ¢ÂÂs Leadenhall, Finclass and Platinum Productions.
The Host hotel
SurreyÁ¢ÂÂs Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa provided a suitably impressive backdrop to the 2007 Acorn Awards weekend. Set in a beautifully landscaped 120-acre estate thatÁ¢ÂÂs home to a nine-hole golf course and a clay pigeon shooting range, the hotel boasts 123 bedrooms, and a restaurant, brasserie and bar presided over by executive chef Andrew Turner.
The spa at Pennyhill ParkÁ¢ÂÂs herbal saunas, ice cave, schnapps steam room and eight swimming pools won it the CondÁÂ© Nast Traveller 2007 ReadersÁ¢ÂÂ Spa award.
Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa is owned by Exclusive Hotels, whose five-star country-house hotel collection also includes HorshamÁ¢ÂÂs South Lodge hotel, the Manor House at Castle Coombe, Lainston House in Winchester and Mannings Heath Golf Club.