Manager of the Year Award
Sponsored by VisitEngland
2014 Winner: Peter Avis
Not many Catey nominees come with an endorsement from Sir Richard Branson, but as restaurant manager of the Virgin Groupowned Babylon at the Roof Gardens in Kensington, London, Peter Avis is very much on the entrepreneur's radar.
"Like me, Peter believes it is very important in a business to take a keen interest in the people who work for them," writes Branson in Avis's nomination. "Their happiness reflects on their performance as well as on the pervading mood of the business. Peter always goes that extra mile with both his team and guests, and truly loves what he does, and that shows." A comment from Avis's headmaster that he would "never amount to anything" spurred him on from being a dishwasher to the awardwinning professional that he is today. "Peter has worked incredibly hard to get where he is and I know that he wants to continue working hard, and to play a part in further developing the amazing hospitality industry we have in the UK in the future," continues Branson.
It's a view that's shared by many people, not least Jon Brown, managing director of Virgin Limited Edition, who describes Avis as "enthusiastic, passionate and committed" and someone whose professionalism and expertise "always ensure he leads his team to provide the highest standards of restaurant service".
Avis's career from pot-washer to 2009 Academy of Food and Wine Service UK Restaurant Manager of the Year (via Palm Beach and Las Vegas and, back in the UK, as a trainee manager for the Royal Garden hotel in Kensington) has certainly proved to inspire others and he works relentlessly to showcase to young people the benefits of working in the industry.
What the judges said
"Peter Avis is one of the most humble, genuine and inspirational restaurant managers I have ever met. There are no problems for him, only solutions."
"He is a true professional and is known as one of the great restaurateurs in the business, admired by clients, staff and his peers alike."
"Peter is like a breath of fresh air. He is young enough to be regarded as trendy to Generation Y and understands that today's recruits have different requirements to previous generations. But he is mature enough to be able to relate to his returning guests who love being seen by him."
Erick Kervaon Bingham hotel, Richmond upon Thames
Nick Holmes Rockliffe Hall, Darlington
Peter Avis Babylon at the Roof Gardens, London
Silvano Giraldin Consultant, Silvano Giraldin Consulting
Linda Halliday HR director, Oakman Inns
ZoÁ« Jenkins General manager, Coworth Park
Philip Newman-Hall Director/general manager, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
Anne Pierce Chief executive, The Springboard Charity
Justin Pinchbeck General manager, The Berkeley
Xavier Rousset Master sommelier, owner/director, Texture, 28Â°-50Â° Wine Workshop and Kitchen
Fred Sirieix General manager, Galvin at Windows
Jane Sunley CEO, Purple Cubed