2019 Scholar – Karen Cross (née Gruet)​

Karen Cross (née Gruet), Assistant Manager at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, was crowned 2019 Scholar at the 7th Annual Awards Ceremony at Claridge's on 4th February 2019.

The 2019 Gold Service Scholarship was a particularly competitive year, according to the Trustees and Judges, with eight Finalists who all exhibited tremendous skill and personality. While each Finalist is indeed a winner, it was Karen Cross who excelled to achieve the accolade in the Scholarship’s 7th year.

Karen loves a challenge and is meticulous about detail in all that she does, concentrating on anticipating a customer’s needs and then exceeding their expectations in terms of professionalism and friendliness.

Currently Assistant Restaurant Manager at the Michelin two-starred Restaurant at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, near Oxford, Karen manages to juggle new motherhood and her restaurant role with ease and charm. She has been at Le Manoir since 2014 when she joined as a Chef de Rang, and moved up the ranks from Assistant Head Waitress to Head Waitress to her current role.

Previously, Karen worked at Restaurant Sat Bains, near Nottingham, as a Chef de Rang, garnering excellent experience with well-regarded two Michelin-starred Chef Bains. She had shifted to the restaurant after a preliminary period at Le Manoir for 15 months which proved an excellent initial training ground in the UK – Karen started as a Commis de Rang, progressing to Demi Chef de Rang.

French-born Karen studied hospitality for 3 years at Lycée Saint Joseph L’Amandier, she is still in close contact with the college and actively encourages current students to work within the UK hospitality industry. Her studies then took her to Ecole Hotelière Savoie Leman in Thonon-les-Bains for a year, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality, Marketing and Management.

Hobbies concentrate on fitness and training, including participating in Tough Mudder (for charity), although she also loves to bake and visit the cinema.

“We are thrilled that Karen is our absolute winning Scholar, having shone throughout the programme. A wealth of educational and networking opportunities await her. The Trustees and Sponsors give our warmest congratulations to all of our Finalists and the new Scholar.”

Edward Griffiths, Trustee and Chairman of the Competition Group

Special commendations have also been noted for two of the Finalists:

James Dainton – Northall at The Corinthia, London; for showing the most potential

Tiziano de Mattia – Hide Restaurant in London; who presented the most consistent performance.
The other five talented Finalists in this year’s competition were:

George Austin – Annabel’s, London
Lauren Chappell – Cromlix Hotel, Stirling
Eleanor Dimes – Lucknam Park Hotel, Wiltshire
Laura Schlegel – Dinner by Blumenthal, London
Alexander Sumerauer – The Ritz, London