The names of the eight front of house professionals who have reached the final of the 2024 Gold Service Scholarship have been revealed today.
They come from a wide variety of hospitality establishments ranging from hotels, members clubs and standalone restaurants.
The winning finalists are based across the UK – with Scotland, the South-west and London all represented.
The candidates, all of whom work in food and beverage roles and are aged between 22-28, will go on to compete in the final at Corinthia London on 15 January.
Following a record number of entries, the candidates were selected after a series of heats, including a quarter-final at the Hotel Café Royal or the Langham Hotel, and a semi-final held at Rosewood London.
Throughout the various stages of the competition, candidates have been assessed on a number of key areas, including social skills, theoretical and practical knowledge.
These have included wine knowledge, decanting and presenting; deciding service priorities; setting up a table; making and serving cocktails; and discussing special events with potential clients.
The final in January will see the candidates compete in a real-life service environment, serving high-profile guests from across the sector at the Northall restaurant at Corinthia London.
The successful eight winning finalists are:
- Serena Buono, Assistant Manager, Royal Automobile Club, Surrey
- Scott Crowe, Supervisor, Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh
- Simona Federová, Chef de Rang, The Ritz London
- Etienne Harding, Assistant Restaurant Manager, The Goring Hotel, London
- Rizwan Khan, General Manager, Junsei Marylebone, London
- Annabel Rohm, Restaurant Assistant Manager, Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire
- Alexandra Sollis, Guest Relations Manager, The Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall
- Joe Southwood, Assistant Lounge Manager, Corinthia London
The Gold Service Scholarship was launched in 2012 with the aim of inspiring the UK’s up and coming front-of-house talent, through mentoring, study and placement opportunities.
Each year’s scholar and winning finalists receive a range of prizes tailored to support their professional development, from trips to Champagne, Porto, and Mosel; a bespoke development programme at EHL Hospitality Business School in Switzerland; and the opportunity to work at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle; work experience at prestigious hotels and restaurants such as the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok; an overseas Rocco Forte Hotel; and the Waterside Inn in Bray, Berkshire.
Edward Griffiths, trustee and chair of judges said: “This has been another incredible year for the Gold Service Scholarship.
“Not only was it a record-breaking year in terms of number of applicants, but the standard has been exceptional, so getting our 40 semi-finalists down to eight was quite the task.
“We would like to congratulate all those who made it to the final, as well as the other candidates who competed so brilliantly throughout the competition.
“We are all very much looking forward to what is going to be an incredible final.”
The new scholar will be announced at the awards ceremony on 5 February 2024 at Claridge’s.