Archive for February, 2019

Restaurant Review: Condita, Edinburgh (Feb 2019)

Posted on: February 27th, 2019 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

 “Small is beautiful.” This maxim could well apply to Condita with its lack of reception and bar, two in the kitchen, three at front of house, six tables, only two dining options, and a wine list of 20 bottles.

Condita Restaurant, Edinburgh

The exterior and location are distinctly low profile: the unremarkable white frontage bearing the name Condita, with blinds obscuring the view from outside, gives little indication this is a restaurant, except for a small notice in the window. Its Salisbury Place address in the Newington district, south of Edinburgh’s Old and New Town, lacks the advantage of a central location or the gastronomic reputation of Leith or Stockbridge.

These limitations are seen as virtues by owner Mark Slaney who opened Condita in November 2018. Certainly, a reception and bar are impracticable given the small size of the room. Two tasting menus make economic sense, minimising food waste. The need to book in advance reinforces this. A short, mainly organic and biodynamic wine list from artisan producers, also reflects the owner’s experience in his parents’ restaurant and as a commercial wine buyer.  Six tables facilitate a high staff to guest ratio, giving well-focused personal service and enables the kitchen to function at optimum level.  The understated exterior belies the eclectic décor and gastronomic delights inside, whilst the location in an area bereft of fine dining establishments, offers a much needed neighbourhood restaurant of quality. Indeed, with detailed records kept of diners – an advantage of a small restaurant – repeat custom is already evident, including one couple visiting three times in the three months since opening.

Conor Toomey and Mark Slaney (Pic: Neil Hanna)

Not that Condita only aims at a local clientele. By engaging Conor Toomey, a chef with a highly distinguished pedigree, it will inevitably attract discerning foodies from further afield. Conor built his reputation as Michael Wignall’s sous chef at the Latymer restaurant at Pennyhill Park in Surrey, which held two Michelin stars, and as head chef at Storrs Hall hotel in Windermere, Cumbria and Amberley Castle in Sussex.  Most recently, he led the kitchens at the Michelin starred restaurant at the Isle of Eriska hotel in Oban.

His current position, far removed from those large, corporate establishments, allows him greater freedom to develop his repertoire in line with Mark’s strategy of championing artisan producers and keeping the operation small. Although it is still evolving, Conor’s cooking, based on classical roots but using contemporary techniques, has already reached stellar levels. Highly technical and complex, it employs organic seasonal produce, including fruit and vegetables from a Victorian kitchen garden in the Borders. As Conor says, “It’s all about the ingredients.” Dishes involve harmonious tastes, textures, temperatures and colours, with care taken to avoid over elaboration.  Invention, moderated by a clear understanding of how to maximise natural flavours, are much in evidence. Precise timing, with judicious seasoning and saucing, showcase seafood, meat and game at their best, reflecting great respect for the raw material. Attention to even the tiniest detail is astonishing. Beautiful presentation, on a variety of porcelain, slate and stone, is clean and precise without being too contrived.

An element of fun is also evident. The only clue to the eight or five course surprise tasting menu is a single strip of card with hand drawn images of an ingredient for each course. These may comprise the main or a minor component – the diner is left guessing. Added to the mystery is the addition of “snacks” which may arrive between courses and be larger than a course itself!

Prices – £80 for eight courses, £50 for five –  are realistic, given the quality of the ingredients and expertise in cooking. They also compare favourably with London restaurants of a similar standard.

A visit on a weekday evening in February finally revealed Condita’s high ceilinged, white walled interior, adorned with cascading hand-painted paper drapes designed by Rachel, Mark’s artist partner. In keeping with the food and drink philosophy, the décor moves with the seasons, the silver and black design reflecting the tone and mood of winter. Well-spaced polished wooden tables, which usually seat two or four but can be extended for six, are arranged in lower and raised areas with spotlighting and candles giving discreet lighting.

Initially, from a choice of three autumnal beverages, we chose a non-alcoholic pear juice. We declined a wine flight with each course, opting instead for just three tasting glasses.


A playful first course featured a Shetland mussel poached in seaweed, resting on cod roe mousse, encased in a delicate “shell” of thin potato. This was a delightful composition of fresh tastes and contrasting textures.


Similarly inventive was the second course of poached haddock, where the mildly sweet flakes of soft white flesh were sandwiched between crisp sheets of chicken skin. Smoked creme fraiche and egg yolk puree added richness, whilst pickled seaweed gave the required degree of acidity. The presentation of this dish, on grey slate garnished with tree bark and leaves, was stunning.

Next came two “snacks.”


Slow cooked ox tongue and tail (above left), meltingly tender morsels of deliciousness, showed how excellent use could be made of humble, neglected parts of the animal. Enveloped in a potato foam of ethereal lightness, the effect was rich, but not heavy, fittingly appropriate for a snack.

A glazed chicken wing (above right) cooked on a Japanese barbecue had a gentle smokiness which complimented the richness of the smoked eel hidden inside. This marriage of modest and extravagant ingredients worked particularly well.

The vegetarian course saw different preparations of celeriac: salt baked and puree, both of which accentuated its sweetness; in a lively, crunchy remoulade; and as delicate crisps. This well-conceived and deftly executed dish demonstrated the versatility of the ugly looking vegetable.

At this stage, and presumably to stop diners gorging themselves ahead on a multi course menu, we were presented with a warm sour dough loaf baked daily by sous chef Spyros. With a crisp crust and firm, mildly lactic crumb, it was a model of its kind.


Expecting another vegetarian course, this time showcasing salsify, we were surprised and delighted to be served pheasant. A notoriously difficult bird to master, it was cooked to perfection with moist, crisp skinned breast and a flavoursome pastilla of its leg meat and offal. Salsify, with its creamy white flesh, added a crunchy texture and a taste similar to oyster. The dish was bought together by a light, well balanced thyme and bay jus, which complimented the gentle gaminess of the pheasant.


Misled again by the “menu” into expecting celery as a main component, we were spoilt with a second game course! The loin of venison was accurately timed to a blushing medium rare, maximising its deep flavour and smooth, firm texture. A disc of black pudding provided a softer, earthy element that worked well with the venison. Golden beets and apple puree gave sweetness and acidity to balance the richness, scurvy grass added a peppery note, and celery offered a crunchy freshness. Finished with a light jus, this inventive dish was a tour de force of game cookery.

The cheese course of brie, fresh and pickled pear, pear gel, hazelnuts and wafer thin flatbread, showed yet another imaginative approach to simple, seasonal ingredients.

Desserts, often the anti-climax of tasting menus, did not disappoint, being equally if not more accomplished than the savoury courses.

Parsnip Dessert

Parsnip in a dessert has been tried elsewhere, but rarely as successful as here, where the parfait and puree were of exemplary consistency and smoothness.

Rhubarb Dessert

Even better was a composite dessert featuring forced rhubarb with white chocolate, almond custard in edible silver, white chocolate panna cotta, and rosemary crumble. Although unapologetically rich, the herbal and sharp elements from the rosemary and rhubarb ensured it was not too sweet.

Black coffee with home-made Garibaldi biscuits and beetroot and raspberry teacakes completed a memorable meal. The gastronomic experience was enhanced by welcoming, knowledgeable and unobtrusive service involving the whole team: Rachel conducted the meet and greet and served the pre-prandial drinks; Marisol, our waitress, served some of the courses, assisted by sous chef Spyros and Conor himself; and Mark took our order and presented the wines – a floral and honeyed Fiano, a rich and spicy Le Mani, a full bodied red Pignatello and a sweet Jurancon – with a succinct description of their provenance and characteristics.

Condita Team: Marisol, Rachel, Spyros, Conor and Mark

Condita comes from the Latin to “set up”. The evidence after just three months opening in the low season for restaurants is most encouraging, well on the way to meeting Mark’s vision of “making people happy” with an intimate dining experience of fine food and wine. Overall, the team have now established a restaurant of which they can be justifiably proud. Fine Dining Guide wishes Condita well and hopes to return to sample a different seasonal menu. We look forward in eager anticipation to its inclusion in the respected national restaurant guides.

Restaurant Review: Bistro Deluxe by Paul Tamburrini, Edinburgh (Feb 2019)

Posted on: February 25th, 2019 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood
Paul Tamburrini
Bistro Deluxe by Paul Tamburrini

Bistro Deluxe by Paul Tamburrini at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel is a welcome addition to the rapidly expanding high end restaurant scene in Edinburgh. Located near the base of the Royal Mile, adjacent to the Scottish Parliament, it fills a much needed gap in Edinburgh’s Old Town which is  which largely bereft of fine dining establishments. At least SMPs have a neighbouring restaurant of quality away from the bustle of their own establishment. However, it is attracting attention from a much wider field of discerning foodies.


The spacious wooden floored dining room has an inevitable corporate feel but is no less attractive for that. With a bar at one end, it is dressed in warming tones of brown, grey and cream, with well positioned wall and spotlighting. Comfortable leather banquettes and smart curved backed dining chairs are arranged around well-spaced, marble or wooden topped tables, providing a maximum of 80 covers. Dominating the view as you walk in is the PT motif of the eponymous chef.

Paul Tamburrini’s impressive CV includes leading positions in prestigious Scottish restaurants. He was executive chef at One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow, then head chef at Cameron House, Loch Lomond, and, most recently, chef director at the Honours Brasserie in Edinburgh. His association with Michelin starred Martin Wishart is therefore well established, so it was only a matter of time before Paul set up under his own name.

Chef Paul Tamburrini

Paul’s confident cuisine is inspired by renowned French chefs Guy Savoy, Michel Bras, and Frédéric Anton but bears its own creative hallmark. Sourcing of the finest, mainly Scottish, produce is the essential prerequisite for dishes with sometimes unexpected yet compatible combinations. Variations in taste, texture, temperature and colour give interest to precisely timed, finely tuned cooking. Plates are not overcrowded, sometimes with only three ingredients, allowing the main one to shine, and letting flavours to speak for themselves. Presentation, on a variety of porcelain and earthenware, is clean and precise.

The a la carte menu, which moves with the seasons, has six to seven choices in each course in addition to oysters, five steaks from the Josper Grill, and two sharing dishes – rack of Scottish lamb and cote de beouf. This is a sensible balance between the creative and more established, safer offerings. Pricing is realistic, given the quality of the ingredients and the skill in cooking. Appetisers range from £7.50 to £12.50, mains from £17.50 to £25, and desserts from £8 to £16, the latter being a tarte tatin and panna cotta ice cream for two.

A wide range of Old and New World countries feature on the 80 bottle wine list, with prices mainly between £20 and £50.

A visit on a quiet evening in February lacked the exciting buzz of a busy weekend service but was no less enjoyable for that. Moreover, without major distractions, we could concentrate on the food, which certainly did not lack sparkle.

A tasting menu, featuring smaller portions from the carte, delighted in its range of deftly prepared courses.

Foie Gras and Potato Mousse

We began with simple yet sophisticated starter: a seared tranche of foie gras with warm potato mousse. The delectable piece of buttery offal was partnered with an ethereally light, silky potato mousse. Although both elements were rich and fully flavoured, the overall effect was not heavy, indeed, we were left wanting more! Overall, to marry the extravagant with the humble was an inspired idea which worked well, reflecting an assurance in the cooking. (Wine: Weitgasse Gruner-Veltliner, Mantelhof)  


Next came a pressed terrine of baby beetroot, which, unlike many inferior versions, was not too gelatinous. Vibrant in colour with a good balance of sweet and earthy flavours, it was accompanied with a yogurt foam topped with dried broccoli crumbs which gave contrasting textures and tastes.  (Wine: Semillon /Sauvignon Blanc, Fraser Gallop Estate)

Orkney Scallop with Cauliflower

Orkney scallops are one of the treasures of Scottish seafood. Here, the cooking did full justice to this highly prized bivalve.  Accurately timed to produce a seared crust with soft opaque flesh, it retained its essential sweet flavour and succulent texture. Along with a smear of – now ubiquitous – cauliflower puree, the scallop was paired with caramelised cauliflower florets of contrasting texture and dressed with a fragrant, but not overpowering curry oil. These elements complemented each other well and with only three ingredients on the plate, there was nowhere to hide, not that was there was any need with this dish. (Wine: Weitgasse Gruner-Veltliner, Mantelhof)

Ox cheek and mash

Equally accomplished was a course of ox cheek braised in red wine. The meltingly soft texture and deep flavour of the meat, the result of long slow cooking, was enhanced by the addition of mushrooms, baby onions and lardons, giving a bourguignon effect.  Smooth, smoky mash proved the perfect accompaniment, soaking up the rich sauce, more of which was offered separately. (Wine: Pinot Noir, Garzon Single Vineyard)

Key Lime Pie

Finally, key lime pie proved a suitably light, tangy dessert to end the meal. The lime curd had a good balance of sweet and sharp flavours, whilst coconut sorbet provided a refreshing counterpoint. Shards of meringue gave height and crispness to this well-conceived and attractively presented dessert of contrasting tastes, textures and temperatures.

Good coffee and petit fours completed a memorable meal. It was enhanced by the welcoming, knowledgeable, efficient and unobtrusive service led by manager Adshead who also selected the flight of wines and gave a succinct description of each. His extensive experience at other top Edinburgh hotels ensured the service would be seamless.

Paul Tamburrini’s restaurant has entered a highly competitive market in the gastronomic capital. Given the strengths demonstrated on our visit, its chances for long term success are strong. Fine Dining Guide will revisit to sample other dishes from the menu and will follow its progress with interest.

London’s Top Restaurants (Feb 2019)

Posted on: February 23rd, 2019 by Simon Carter
Guides 2019
Three Leading Inspector-led Guides

Below is a formula applied to the scores in leading guides to discover the top 100 (one hundred) restaurants in London. This is up-to-date as at February 2019.

The weighting is toward Michelin with six points per Michelin star, three points per Waitrose Good Food Guide mark out of ten and two points per AA Restaurant Guide Rosette.  The number in brackets under Waitrose GFG is the position in their 2019 published list of Top 50 Restaurants of Great Britain.

Top London Restaurants 1 to 37
…and 38 to 75
…and to 102

Scotland and Wales Top Restaurants (Feb 2019)

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by Simon Carter
Guides 2019
Three leading Inspector Led Guides

Below is a formula applied to the scores in leading guides to discover the top 30 (thirty) restaurants in Scotland and leading restaurants of Wales. This is up-to-date as at February 2019.

The weighting is toward Michelin with six points per Michelin star, three points per Waitrose Good Food Guide mark out of ten and two points per AA Restaurant Guide Rosette.  The number in brackets under GFG is the position in their 2019, Top 50 of Great Britain published list.

Top 30 Restaurants in Scotland
Top Restaurants in Wales

Map: Britain’s Top Restaurants (2019)

Posted on: February 20th, 2019 by Simon Carter

This is a map that brings together the leading restaurants of Great Britain and Ireland according to three leading inspector-led guides as at January 2019 editions.  Each of the Guides outlined below provide data in publicly available press releases each year, or in the case of the AA Guide through cumulative twice yearly releases.  The points of note are as follows:

* The Waitrose Good Food Guide 2019 Top 50 are included and mapped.  The number in brackets next to the GFG score is the restaurant’s position within their top 50 list.

* The AA Restaurant Guide 2019 all 4 and 5 Rosette restaurants are mapped.

*The Michelin Guide 2019 all 2 and 3 Star restaurants are mapped.

Further points of note are as follows:

*The numbering of the labels is significant as it reflects the fine dining guide ranking – an FDG score derived from a specific formula applied to the three guides marks. The highest is 53 marks out of a maximum possible 58.

*There are many overlaps with these three guide mark catagories such that the final number of restaurants is seventy-nine.

Britain Restaurant Map Image
Britain’s Top Restaurants

Click on the expand icon on the top right of the embedded google map below to go into full screen of google maps (as per image above and recommended).  Alternatively, click on the icon on the left to see the menu of restaurants and their details.  Click on each number label on the map or on the menu on the left to see the scrollable restaurant details appear.

Britain’s Top Thirty (30) Restaurants (Feb 2019)

Posted on: February 19th, 2019 by Simon Carter

Guides 2019

Below is a formula applied to the scores in leading guides to discover the top 30 (thirty) restaurants in Britain. This is up-to-date as at February 2019.

The weighting is toward Michelin with six points per Michelin star, three points per Waitrose Good Food Guide mark out of ten and two points per AA Restaurant Guide Rosette.  The number in brackets under GFG is the position in their 2019, Top 50 published list.

Chef Interview: Tom Kemble, The Pass, South Lodge (Feb 2019)

Posted on: February 14th, 2019 by Simon Carter
Exclusive Hotels Group, South Lodge.

From an early age, Tom was fortunate to have exposure to the creative wonder of quality restaurants.  Indeed, his father had a family business that involved significant international travel to America, Europe and Asia where “He might come back from his travels with some extraordinary food products, be it a stick of best quality German marzipan or some obscure but beautiful Japanese bean curd dessert, the likes of either I had never tasted before.”

Tom’s step-grandmother is Japanese, so from an early age he had the opportunity to see and taste some incredible products that broadened his horizons. Always hands on, practical and artistic (also having studied for an art history degree) a natural career step might have involved working with raw materials in some way, in fact the kitchen proved a natural extension to these attributes and a decision from which he and his dining guests have significantly benefited.

Tom Kemble, The Pass, South Lodge

When asked whether cooking is an art or a science, he sees the life of a chef as mastering an artisan craft rather than either an art or science. The concept of becoming a master of the craft extends to a Japanese philosophy called Shokunin.  This goes further and deeper than demonstrating mastery of mere skills, it spans the passion, dedication, discipline, ethical and even spiritual nature of the student; continuously inspiring self-evolution, which extends to helping those around you as well as improving self; “I see Shokunin as a guide to my career as well as more broadly in life.”

The first career role in London was at Foliage restaurant at the Madarin Oriental, where he worked (starting as demi-commis) for two and half years. While this naturally represented the bottom of the ladder, he was part of an amazing and supportive brigade.  Fine dining guide remembers the restaurant very fondly as during this time it was delivering some of the finest food in London!  As well as the inspirational Chris Staines as Head Chef, there were other familiar faces to fine dining guide in that multi-talented brigade – a junior sous chef was Ollie Pierrepont, most recently at La Trompette and another, Ed Dutton who went onto Pied a Terre before starting Noize with Mathieu Germond in September 2017 and Daniel Pearse currently exec pastry chef at the Savoy.

From Foliage, a fresh challenge awaited that would prove pivotal to his career. Mikael Jonsson, the enigmatic, self-taught chef with a passion for produce, who opened the restaurant Hedone in Chiswick.  Tom took the role as his sous chef and the restaurant achieved a Michelin star in the first year of opening. Inspired by Mikael, it was in this environment that he developed a love and passion for great produce.

After Hedone, he had the opportunity to work for Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson who is head chef at the restaurant Fäviken in Sweden.  Magnus had previously worked at L’Astrance and L’Arpège in France, before moving onto Fäviken in 2008, which gained two Michelin stars in 2016.  During nine months under Magnus, Tom was inspired by the local produce and precise cooking techniques. For example the intense ageing of retired dairy cows, the local pigs fattened on whey and grilled over coals and the abundance of game in the autumn.  In addition, early harvest, freshly picked and shelled peas and how they maintained flavour including a level sweetness where the sugar had not converted to starch.  This was further evidence of how extraordinary differences in flavour and texture come from preparing the very best and freshest possible produce in the right way.  

In order to cook professionally, Tom notes that, “you need to be sensitive to understanding what the produce is, in that each ingredient will respond differently to being cooked in different ways.  For example, how sugars break down to starch in vegetables or how proteins react to different types of cooking.”

A return to London, saw him take the opportunity of head chef at Bonham’s restaurant with a small team of three chefs which gained a Michelin star in his first year.  In a four years plus stint in those kitchens at Bonham’s, most things were prepared during service, so much was done cooking a la minute and not (as appears a trend in the modern way of placing the accent on pre-preparation). This approach was something he was keen to take forward into his next role. 

The Pass Restaurant, South Lodge

The Pass at South Lodge (above) operates with a relatively small number of covers – twenty eight – offering a tasting menu only format with a choice of six and eight courses in a kind of extended ‘kitchen table’ cum open kitchen.   Tom recognizes,  “There are few opportunities to have such a support structure as there is at South Lodge in the Exclusive Hotels Group whereby a chef may focus on working with the high quality produce in such an intimate top end dining environment.”    Indeed, where the Group MD & Owner (Danny Pecorelli) carries the social media handle @foodhero, you might rightly assume that chefs and food will get tangible backing across those properties.

At The Pass, he looks forward to extending the inspiration for the finest ingredients, while applying his craft to Japanese influences in cooking style and produce.  Perhaps a greater focus on the tasting menu style previously only available on Friday evenings at Bonham’s (the trade there was mainly lunch with a customer base reflecting a need for modern European, classical cuisine, so perhaps those Friday dinner menus did not get the level of awareness they deserved.) 

The Pass kitchen has access to wonderful dayboat fish from Cornwall and Sussex through to shellfish or the highest quality vegetables such as morels, peas, wild garlic or asparagus.  Tom finds the iodine and minerality found in oysters, muscles, cockles, razor clams inspires him in other areas of cooking.  As a means to deliver and enhance flavour, Seaweed is one of his favourite ingredients to work with, so as well as preparing three types of dashi as a basis for sauces and marinades, he uses seaweed butter (inspired by a Stephen Harris’ – of The Sportsman in Kent – slip sole dish roasted in seaweed butter) to finish his own fish dishes.  The kitchen also maintains dried seaweed as powders or even pickled to enable wherever or however the flavour enhanced experience is relevant to a dish. 

A theme of the six and eight course menu at The Pass at South Lodge will engage the customer throughout with clear, clean flavours with a core of umami based Japanese techniques.

Tasting Menu Salmon

Indeed one dish sampled on the tasting menu was a Salmon dish (above). Tom analysed the dish as follows:  “The Salmon (sustainably farmed from Norway) was cured in kombu, which was initially used for making dashi.  This sat on the skin before a five hour process of the flesh being covered with equal parts light brown sugar and salt.  After being washed the Salmon was skinned, while making sure to have kept fat on the fish (for flavour).  The loin and the belly were divided as each has a different texture and fat content. The fattiness from the fish was balanced by a few different components; crème fraiche which added a lactic note, then an oil made from sea lettuce, which provided an iodine mineral flavour alongside a hit of umami from the tomato ponzu.  Added texture came from watermelon radish and to finish the dish baeri caviar, oyster leaf and ice lettuce.”

In terms of general signatures, he suggests there are three branches, in the context of being given the opportunity to fully explore Japanese led cookery. 

First, Tom employs Japanese influenced ingredients and flavours inspired by umami from creating several types of dashi in house.

Binchotan Charcoal Fire Bricked Grill

Second, the restaurant imported specialist Japanese Binchotan charcoal for an imported fire bricked grill (above, Konro Grill in the UK).  The charcoal provides a beautiful flavour, which you might find in restaurants across Japan for cooking produce from eel to Wagyu beef.  Binchotan charcoal has been produced for over 300 years by artisan makers in the Kishu district of Wakayama in Japan.

The flavour effect is clean, clear and non-smoky, in other words the antithesis of the classic smoky Big Green Egg barbecue. For economic reasons the charcoal is blended to make it last longer, but the Binchotan is extraordinary like porcelain and is said to have many positive health properties.  The kitchen employs the classic technique used in Japan where meat or fish is grilled and skewered over the heat rather than direct on the grill.

Third, comes from the passion for the freshest highest quality ingredients providing the best possible flavours and textures.  In the future, Tom’s believes his style may move increasingly toward apparent simplicity, where there may appear to be three components on a plate that produce a wonderful flavour combination that in fact masks a complexity in their creation.  The chocolate dessert on the current tasting menu is a perfect example of that aim.

General plans for the future will be to develop and grow the team and continue to be considered about delivering tasting menus that will change with the seasons to keep both the customers coming back and the chefs motivated to cook and create.  There will continue to be a five course offering at lunch time which is a little closer to a starter, main and dessert format at a lower price point.

Tom will also look to put on ‘four hands’ dinners with a guest chef on special evenings.  A master in tempura, sushi or meat cooking and then maybe swap over and do something in Japan.  He’d also like to do the same with chefs he admires in the UK.  These are simple ways to enthuse customers, chefs on the team and expand the skill set all at the same time.  The future is very exciting and “I’m delighted to be on board at the prestigious and food loving Exclusive Hotels UK Group.”

Gold Service Scholarship Awards: Claridges, London (Feb 2019)

Posted on: February 5th, 2019 by Simon Carter

The Trustees of the Gold Service Scholarship are delighted to announce that the 2019 Scholar is Karen Gruet from Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire.

The announcement was made at a glamorous reception at Claridge’s Hotel on Monday, 4 February 2019, attended by 250 influential members of the hospitality industry. This follows the Final assessment lunch which was held at Corinthia Hotel London in January.

Karen Gruet is Assistant Restaurant Manager at the Michelin two-starred restaurant at Le Manoir. Frenchborn, she started her work career in the UK in 2013 at Le Manoir as a Commis de Rang, then moved to Restaurant Sat Bains (also Michelin two-starred) in 2014 as a Chef de Rang. Karen then returned to Le Manoir in late 2014 where she has progressed through the front-of-house ranks of the restaurant.  Commenting on her role at the hotel, she enjoys anticipating and exceeding guests’ expectations, and is “extremely driven with a passion for knowledge and developing her skills.”

Chairman of the Judges Edward Griffiths enthused about the high calibre of candidates for the 2019

Scholarship programme, stating: “Not only did we have a challenging time whittling down the initial 100 applicants at the early stages of the competition, but choosing the Scholar from the group of eight winning Finalists was a difficult task. Each year, the quality of candidates improves in terms of ability, experience, enthusiasm and social skills.” Speaking on behalf of the Trustees and Judges, he added: “We are thrilled that Karen is our absolute winning Scholar, having shone throughout the programme. A wealth of educational and networking opportunities await her. The Trustees and Sponsors give our warmest congratulations to all of our Finalists and the new Scholar.”

Special commendations have also been noted for two of the Finalists – James Dainton, of The Northall at Corinthia Hotel London, for showing the most potential, and Tiziano de Mattia, of Hide Restaurant in London, who presented the most consistent performance.

Background on the Gold Service Scholarship

The Scholarship was launched in 2012 to encourage a lasting heritage of excellence in hospitality. The programme celebrates the craft of front of house service in Food & Beverage, and nurtures young talent through tailored mentoring. The past six years’ Scholars and Finalists have had impressive progression in their careers to date, due in part to the connections they have established during their association with the Scholarship. As Alumni, they also make up the recently launched Team Gold, a platform to share ideas and network through social media. An educational calendar of special events hosted by guest speakers, for all Scholars and Finalists, provides learning opportunities in the company of leading industry figures.

The Gold Service Scholarship is grateful for the support it receives from its key Sponsors, which include BaxterStorey, Buckingham Palace, The Gosling Foundation and the Lord Forte Foundation.

Website –

Twitter & Instagram – @goldscholarship #GSS2019