The Association of Catering Excellence, also known as ACE has revealed the first winner in their new ACE Robyns Awards. After a tough judging process, the 35 entrants were whittled down to just 12 finalists with the first winner being revealed on Thursday, 21st July, 2016.
Leanne Findley, account manager for the aviation business for Sodexo was announced as the overall winner in front of 250 guests at the association’s annual summer event. Ming Lai, national account manager KPMG, Restaurant Associates and Emma Langford, people manager at Lexington Catering were both highly commended.
The ACE Robyns Award, sponsored by Troika, was created by the ACE committee in memory of Robyn Jones OBE, founder of CH&Co, who sadly died in September 2015. Robyn, who was an ACE Patron for many years, was known for her tireless work in the mentoring, training and development of young talent. These new awards put the spotlight on the next generation of the industry, something Robyn was always at the forefront of. Through the new awards ACE aims to recognise up-and-coming talent in all aspects of contract catering, from chefs to marketers and from butlers to business development staff.
ACE Robyns winner, Leanne is responsible for Airport Lounge Operations and her client portfolio consists of Emirates at Glasgow, Manchester and London Gatwick, Virgin Holidays at Manchester, Gulf Air, Qatar and Malaysia Airlines at London Heathrow, Upper Deck Lounge at Glasgow Airport, plus various FM contracts at UK Airports. She also supports business development globally by working on tenders, presentations and mobilisations.
Tim Jones, Joint Founder of CH&Co with his wife Robyn, who was one of the judges said, “I would like to congratulate all of the entrants. The standard of award entries was very high and several were particularly inspiring, demonstrating the drive and initiative that Robyn was well-known for. The judges had to make some difficult choices but I could see that Leanne would have struck a chord with Robyn.”
The other finalists were Holly Brown – BaxterStorey, Hannah Carmichael – Bartlett Mitchell, Paulina Ciecielag – ISS, Ryan Davies – BaxterStorey, Gregory Hall – Lexington, Henry Maasdorp – Blue Apple, Paul Matthews – Vacherin, Louisa May Matthews – Sodexo and Emma Shutler – Lexington.
Paul Hurren, Chair of ACE said “When I became ACE Chair one of my aims was to put young people in the spotlight, as they are the future of our industry and I believe we should champion young talent at every opportunity. These awards are just one aspect of our work to involve the next generation. I know Robyn Jones would be delighted that she is still shining the spotlight on the stars of contract catering.”
The ACE Robyns presentation was held on the Bateaux London cruise. Guests boarded at Embankment Pier for a memorable evening, taking in the sights of some of London’s favourite landmarks accompanied by the sound of singer/songwriter Sammie Jay. The summer event was sponsored and supported by DCS, British Premium Meats, Jascots, Seedlip, Sodexo, Sunsoul, Sibberi Tree Water, Johnson’s Linen Services, Direct Seafoods, Soffles Pitta Chips, ChicP, Ape Snacks and Off to Work.
The next ACE event will be Ready Steady Cook: Next Generation which takes place on 22nd September 2016 at East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf.