Acorn Awards: Our rising stars

If you know a superstar under the age of 30 who works in hospitality, it’s time to recognise their achievements. Katherine Price takes a look at some of the far-flung places past Acorn Award winners have set down their roots

Dubai, New York, Sydney, Singapore, Hong Kong – these are just a few of the widespread locations where Acorn Award alumni have landed. Roles former winners now hold include president of EMEA hotel operations for Four Seasons; assistant general manager of Firmdale’s Whitby hotel; and group managing director of a lifestyle PR company.

The winners of The Caterer’s Acorn Awards, affectionately known as ‘the 30 under 30’, are just as diverse themselves and come from all corners of the industry. All are united by an excellent work ethic, a passion for the industry and an ambition to succeed.

Past Acorns include hoteliers Stuart Procter (2000), general manager of the 105-bedroom, five-red-AA-star Stafford hotel in London; 2016 Hotelier of the Year Craig Bancroft (1987) of Northcote in Langho, Lancashire; and Gareth Banner (2009), managing director of mega London hotel the Ned; as well as chefs Jason Atherton (2000), Marcus Wareing (1997), Marco Pierre White (1987), Michael Caines (1996) and Gary Rhodes (1988).

More recent alumni include Adam Reid, chef-patron of Adam Reid at the French in Manchester (2014); chocolatier and pâtissier Will Torrent (2014); Mark Froydenlund (2013), chef-patron at Marcus at the Berkeley in London’s Knightsbridge; and Adam Handling, chef-patron of the Frog (2013). With a list like this, it’s no wonder hospitality leaders watch each year’s winners keenly for emerging talent.

So what are you waiting for? If you know a young professional who goes over and above what’s required, now is the time to recognise that by nominating them to join this elite hospitality club – just 930 people have won the award over the past 32 years in an industry that employs three million people.

Entrants from all sections of hospitality – from pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels, foodservice and contract catering – are welcome. All will be judged by a panel of experts from their sector.

Sponsor’s message

act_cleanAt ACT Clean, we know that our business and its success begins and ends with the quality, commitment and aspirations of our team and the job that they do. Creating great experiences and partnerships, demonstrating excellence and making impressions is all about people. The Acorn Awards have long recognised, rewarded and celebrated these attributes and the exceptional talent within our fantastic and dynamic industry that enhances its reputation. That’s why at ACT Clean we’re proud and delighted to continue our support of the Acorn Awards.

We see our support as playing a very small role in a vital scheme in an industry we can all be proud to belong to; recognising its future leaders and giving them a platform from which to shine still further.

John Stevenson, founder and director, ACT Clean

How to nominate

Nominations for the 2018 Acorn Awards should be completed online by visiting

To qualify for this award, nominees must meet the following criteria – work in the hospitality industry, be under the age of 30 on 4 June 2018, and be available to attend the winners’ weekend at the Lygon Arms in Broadway, Worcestershire, on 3-4 June 2018.

The closing date for nominations is 26 January.

For further information, contact Martha Allardyce at or Lisa Jenkins at

The venue: Lygon Arms, Broadway, Worcestershire


The lucky 2018 Acorn Award winners will get to spend the weekend at the new-look, 16th-century Lygon Arms on 3-4 June.

Last year, the hotel underwent a multimillion-pound refurbishment under general manager Graeme Nesbitt, after being acquired by property group L+R, owned by brothers Ian and Richard Livingstone.

The 86-bedroom property holds much affection among hoteliers and is steeped in history. In the 17th century it served both sides of the Civil War with Oliver Cromwell staying at the inn before the Battle of Worcester in 1651, and Charles I using the inn to meet his supporters.

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