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By Rebecca Riezebos
Raúl Martínez, restaurant manager of the Arts Club in London’s Mayfair, has won the inaugural Reunion des Gastonomes Award at the organisation’s 99th Annual Banquet, held at the Langham Hotel in London’s Marylebone.
He beat Yacine Bezegouche, assistant F&B manager at the Hotel Café Royal in London and Paul Clarkson, head chef trainer at the Clink, Brixton, London to the title.
The award, designed to identify and encourage excellence in professional food and beverage services, offers the winner four two-day stages across a range of sectors, invitations to attend up to five Gastronome events within a one-year period, mentoring by Gastronome members throughout the year and associate membership of the Réunion for up to four years.
Serge Pradier, president of the Réunion, said: “We are delighted to see the inaugural award being awarded to such a worthy and aspiring winner, who’s a great credit to our profession.”
Raúl Martínez started his career working in his father’s bar in Spain, studied food and beverage management and a tourism degree in Madrid with experience at the 3-star Zalacain. On moving to the UK he became restaurant manager at Ibérica Food and Culture, London, before joining the Arts Club in 2012.
Martínez impressed the judges with his comprehensive research into the history of the Réunion. His ideas for promoting and building awareness of the Reunion’s aims gave the judges “confidence that he’ll maximise the vast networking opportunities offered to our winner’, explains John Cousins, director of The Food and Beverage Training Company and chair of the judging panel.
On the judging panel alongside Cousins was: Alison Frith, managing director of Artizian Catering Services; hospitality consultant Theresa Maw and Wallace Vincent, executive secretary of The Master Innholders and vice president of the Réunion.
The Réunion des Gastronomes was formed in August 1899, with the object of endeavouring to raise the standards of hotel keeping and catering and promoting stability of employment.
Entries for the 2018 award will be open soon. Applications are open to anyone of any age following a career in food and beverage services and working at full-time at supervisory or management level.
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