A kitchen porter at a London hotel has won the annual search for KP of the Year by warewasher specialist Winterhalter.
José Núnez, who works at The Stafford, the historic five-star hotel in St James’s, won the title after impressing judges with his initiative such as suggesting a new storage solution that reduced breakages significantly.
He was nominated by the hotel’s manager, Mark Surguy, who said: “He has a work ethic that cannot be compared. He’s always smiling, he holds himself and every member of his team to the highest standards. Nothing is ever too much for him.”
The Stafford is home to The Game Bird, a destination restaurant launched at the start of this year, as well as cocktail bar The American Bar.
Mark arranged for a special “team meeting” at which a shocked José was presented with his trophy by Stephen Kinkead, managing director of Winterhalter UK. “I’m very surprised but happy to win this award and it was great to have my colleagues with me,” José said.
James Durrant, executive chef of the Stafford, added: “Having José here for the opening of The Game Bird has ensured everything went smoothly. We know we can always rely on him.”
In a year that saw the level of entries go sky high, judges had such a tough time making their selection that they gave out three “highly commended” awards. These went to Daniel Gligorov of The White Hart at Fyfield in Oxfordshire, Bayani Balba of events venue One Great George Street in Westminster in London, and Banjamin Berany of The Vineyard in Newbury, Berkshire.
Anne Pierce, chief executive of Springboard Charity and one of the judges, said: “There were so many amazing entries. On another day any one of the top 10 might have won. Judging them was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do!”
Another judge James Horler, chief executive of 360 Restaurants, said: “These guys do a fantastic job. The KP of the Year award is really important because the kitchen porter is the engine room of the kitchen.”
Stephen at Winterhalter UK added: “After last year, I didn’t think the level of entries could get any higher. I was wrong. But in the toughest-ever year, José is a truly worthy winner and he was the unanimous choice of the judges.”
José received a trophy, £1,000 in cash and a celebratory meal with friends, plus he wins a Winterhalter machine for The Stafford.
The three highly commended KPs won trophies and £250 in cash. Every kitchen porter nominated will receive a special KP of the Year apron, created by Oliver Harvey, in a presentation tin.