Top bartenders reach finals in De Vere competition

Victory Village HotelsBartenders from De Vere Hotels and Village Urban Resorts around the UK battled it out in the company’s first annual Food and Beverage Competition final.

The bar staff had to complete a series of challenges including being tested on perfect pours by representatives from brewer Marston’s, wine and spirits supplier Bibendum and beer producer InBev.

There were three bartender winners from the day: Morgan Williams of Village Urban Resort Swansea in south Wales, Natalie Blackshaw of Village Urban Resort Cheadle in south Manchester, and Luke Sherwood of Village Urban Resort Hull.

More than 60 entrants took part in regional heats held cross the UK, split into three different categories: Bar Person of the Year, Restaurant Person of the Year, and Up and Coming Chef of the Year.

The “Up and Coming Chefs” had to produce a three-course menu within two hours while the restaurant team members had to deliver full lunch service.

Finalists were judged on their ability to upsell, build a rapport and exceed customer expectations during the service and were tested on their food and wine knowledge throughout the service.

The judges included De Vere Hotels and Village Urban Resorts chief executive Robert Cook, the company’s director of people development Mike Williams, Cat James and Nigel “Fresh” Freshman of Free Radio, and Peter Robinson, principal lecturer for leisure studies at the University of Wolverhampton.

The competition was introduced to recognise and reward talented people in the business and identify future talent and stars, including staff at its hotel bars (pictured).

The top three from the restaurant competition were Beth Greenlaigh of Village Urban Resort Bury in Manchester, Katie O’Neil of Village Urban Resort Walsall in the West Midlands, and Lucas Collier of Village Urban Resort Swansea.

The three top chefs were Isaac Copeland of The Grand in Brighton, Josh Singleton of Mottram Hall in Cheshire and Kurtis Mutch of Belton Woods in Lincolnshire.

The top three from each category were invited to the company’s Excellence Awards that will be held in January, where the overall winners will be announced. Each winner will also be rewarded with £1,000.

Robert Cook said: “I left inspired and astonished at the level of enthusiasm and talent in the group that stands us in fantastic stead for our expansion into Scotland next year and beyond.”

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