Last year's ACE Robyns winner, Laura Amos tells us about her year

26 March 2018
- Ace News
ACE Robyns Awards entries now open

The ACE Robyns Award was launched in 2016 to recognise up and coming talent in the foodservice business. Inspired by Robyn Jones, joint-founder of CH&Co who died in 2015 it is a fitting tribute to a lady that nurtured and encouraged young people in the industry.

Laura Amos, Catering Manager for Ampersand at Holyrood House in Edinburgh won the award last year. She said

“The exposure has been amazing. We are restricted with social media at the palace, and have to do everything through the Royal Collection marketing team, so I set up a personal twitter account when I knew I was shortlisted. When it was announced it went insane! People have been following me and adding me from other catering and hospitality businesses. It was a real buzz.”

Not content to leave it there, Laura decided to do something positive with her success. Winning the award made her think about the part she could play in encouraging young talent in her own team.

“It was fantastic to win the ACE Robyns, and I really wanted to find a way to give somebody else a chance to do something they could be proud of. The Rock Trust is a local charity in Edinburgh that helps young people who are at risk of becoming homeless. They provide sheltered housing and training in practical skills needed to manage a house. I talked to them about offering a placement to a young person, and as a result we now have Ellie working with us. She is only 17 and comes from a home where she has no father, and an alcoholic mother. The head chef and I are acting as mentors and she is doing brilliantly.”

As part of Laura’s prize, she won a weekend break at prestigious hotel and members’ club, The Ned.

“Although I was very excited to win the prize and couldn’t wait to use it, it’s very hard to get away from the business in the summer so I waited until just before Christmas. I came down to London with my best friend who had recently had a baby. It was such a treat – the hotel was absolutely stunning and we had a choice of 8 or 9 restaurants to choose from. We took full advantage of the spa and loved how festive the hotel was with its gorgeous Christmas tree.”

The purpose of ACE is of course to promote face to face networking, and as such, Laura has been invited to attend some of the ACE events including the glamorous Charity Dinner at the Langham. She says “It’s great to get together with some of my peers in the company and put faces to names.” This is a sentiment that some of the other younger ACE members echo.

Wesley Manson from Restaurant Associates recently got involved with ACE for the first time:

“The value and importance of face-to-face networking was brought into great focus for me when I assisted at the ACE Charity Dinner. I knew almost nobody at the event beyond their names and faces from social media, whilst the slightly older attendees had personal connections with many others in the room. Whilst I made polite introductions they already had lots to talk about and share. As the night went on, I got a real buzz out of being with a group of like-minded people, and truly feeling the passion of the crowd for their shared industry. Getting to meet some very senior attendees, including some who I had previously aspired to emulate professionally, made them feel more approachable - I realised they were in similar positions to me at my age and had the same worries and struggles.”

Gregory Hall, Operations Manager for Elior is a regular networker, and was shortlisted for the ACE Robyns in 2016:

“I sit on the London Branch leadership team heading up all things diversity & inclusion related for the Institute of Hospitality. This provides me opportunities to network across the industry as a whole. After the ACE Robyns a number of people messaged me personally to congratulate me on my achievement.”

Nicole Du Preez was a finalist in 2017:

“I prefer face to face networking, I believe it to be much more beneficial than clicking a button on a social networking site. Face to face allows one's true passion and personality to shine. Being a finalist in last year's ACE Robyns has broadened my horizons in the industry. I have had a number of colleagues ask what it means - it has allowed me to coach colleagues and share my passion for catering. The Robyn's are now more widely recognised as an industry award and my clients have taken note.”

Holly Brown from Baxter Storey has enjoyed some of the ACE events:

“I have been to the ACE Robyns, the quiz night and Ready Steady Cook and it’s great to catch up with other caterers. Having a drink on arrival, and encouraging some of the longer standing members of ACE to mix with the younger ones are good ways of getting us more involved.”

Entries for this year’s ACE Robyns are now open. Nominations must be made by Friday 25th May 2018.

The nomination form can be downloaded from the ACE website

Blog written by
Jane Brocklebank
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