Interviews have now taken place with shortlisted candidates and the Réunion des Gastronomes is pleased to announce the three finalists for its inaugural award.   They are from a diverse range of establishments and, as part of the selection process, have already been guests of the judging panel at one of the monthly events organised by the Gastronomes.  There will be a final interview by the panel to decide the winner.

Finalists are: Yacine Bezegouche, restaurant and bar manager at The Hilton Bankside; Paul Clarkson, head chef trainer at The Clink, Brixton  and Raul Martinez, brasserie manager at The Arts Club

All finalists will attend the 99th Annual Banquet at The Langham on 24 November, at which the winner will be announced. The winner receives the opportunity of four two-day placements (stages) with expenses covered, across a raft of different industry sectors.  He will also receive invitations to attend five further Gastronome events in the year after his award. as well as benefiting from mentoring and networking opportunities throughout from the membership.  In addition he will be given Associate membership of the Réunion des Gastronomes for up to four years.  “The total prize value for the winner is believed to be worth in excess of £3,000,” says Pradier, “but the mentoring and potential career enhancement he will be offered as a result of his prize is priceless.”

The judging panel and shortlisted finalists met recently at the Institute of Directors, at which Serge Pradier is general manager.  The panel comprises: Alison Frith, managing director of Artizian Catering Services; hospitality consultant Theresa Maw; Wally Vincent, Executive Secretary of the Master Innholders, (vice president of the Réunion). The chairman of the judges is John Cousins, director of The Food & Beverage Training Company.

Speaking of the interview process, Serge Pradier said: “We were really impressed with the calibre of all the entrants, and it wasn’t an easy decision to select the original shortlist, let alone hone it down to the three finalists.  There is so much talent in our industry and it is most encouraging to learn the career aspirations and of challenges that our finalists have already overcome to achieve their goals.  The next stage of the judging will be even more difficult but just as rewarding, I’m sure.”


Photos show (L to R): Raul Martinez, The Arts Club; Yacine Bezegouche of The Hilton Bankside; Paul Clarkson of The Clink

Second photo:  Raul Martinez, The Arts Club; Wally Vincent; Serge Pradier; Yacine Bezegouche of The Hilton Bankside; Paul Clarkson of The Clink; Alison Frith and John Cousins