Daniel McLoughlin, restaurant manager at Exclusive Hotels' South Lodge hotel, has been named the 2015 Acorn Scholar.
McLoughlin, who becomes the 13th Scholar, impressed a judging panel including restaurateur James Horler and chef Mark Sargeant with his commitment to developing a mentoring scheme for college students.
The judges heard the 25-year old talk about setting up a scheme to bridge the gap between colleges and full time roles, at the all-day judging held yesterday at Westminster Kingsway College.
McLoughlin, who ultimately aims to own his own business after being a general manager of a five-star hotel, hopes to further develop his human resources skills, team motivation techniques and financial knowledge within food and beverage during his year as the Acorn Scholar.
Commenting on how McLoughlin stood out from the crowd, Horler described him as highly driven.
"[He] has already proved his commitment to his own development since last year. The Acorn Scholarship can help him identify his next steps and help him put his plan into effect. He will be a great ambassador for the Acorn Scholarship," said Horler.
The restaurant manager receives a prize bundle valued at more than £7,000, including a £2,000 bursary for professional development, plus monthly coaching sessions with the Acorn Scholarship team, a trip to Villeroy & Boch in Luxembourg and a designated mentor to guide him through the year as a scholar.
Lexington Catering also had cause to celebrate as two of its employees, catering manager Rebecca Rowe and assistant general manager Eve Kelly, were both given Highly Commended Awards following the final for showing amazing passion and clear vision for their development.
The Acorn Scholarship is a self-nominated award and is open to individuals who are UK residents and able to work in the UK without restriction.
Previous winners include Rob Hartwell of Peach Pubs, Joel Fagg of Principal Hayley Hotels and John Price, owner of the Ginger Pub Company and the first Acorn Scholar. Sponsors included Villeroy & Boch, Unilever Food Solutions and the Dorchester Collection.