Congratulations Rebecca Dibben – The Gold Service Scholarship winner!

Rebecca Dibben, a 22 year old Restaurant Supervisor at Deseo Mediterranean Restaurant, Gleneagles Hotel, has won the inaugural Gold Service Scholarship. She beat five other finalists who competed at a special lunch service held at London’s Westminster Kingsway College on Monday 11th February 2013.

 Following regional finals in Birmingham and London the six finalists each served a three-course lunch with wines for an invited table of four while the judges observed. Before the lunch the guests were served champagne and canapés in a separate room before being taken through to the dining room.

“I can’t believe it,” said an emotional Rebecca at the awards ceremony at Claridge’s. “I would never have imagined this when I first entered. I really love my job and love looking after people. This is incredible.”

Asked where she hoped to visit as part of her special year she paused before bursting into a smile: “Everywhere!”

Judge John Davey said: “She was the clear winner. There was no argument amongst the judges. Rebecca had a winning combination of charm, enthusiasm and technical skill that just captured her guests and us as judges.“

Rebecca wins a year’s worth of mentoring from a list of mentors that includes Silvano Giraldin, Sergio Rebecchi, Emmanuel Landré and Fred Sirieix. To mark the occasion Rebecca will have her portrait painted by celebrated hospitality artist Henrietta Graham.

Willy Bauer said: “This is the moment we have been working so hard for. We have a lovely young winner who can spread her wings and we can give her the benefit of our advice and experience.”

Guests watched a film documenting the progress of the competition, produced by Roy Ackerman’s coolcucumber TV, before Rebecca was presented with a magnum of Laurent-Perrier champagne and a special winners scroll by lead sponsor Alastair Storey of BaxterStorey.

“I am sure she will have a wonderful year,” he said after giving out the winner’s prize. “We have a great deal of young talent in this industry and in this country and all we need to do is nurture it to encourage those who enter this amazing profession on to better things.”

Alastair added: “Claridge’s has done us proud, the Ballroom is the perfect backdrop for our awards ceremony the food and service teams tonight have epitomised all that we stand for – our guests have experienced amazing food, impeccably served.  I’m also delighted that Laurent-Perrier and Fortnum & Mason’s were so generous in providing the perfect champagne and wines to compliment today’s occasion and toast Rebecca’s success.”

Thomas Koch’s GM Claridge’s said: “Becoming a sponsor of The Gold Service Scholarship was one of our greatest pleasures. Service is at the heart of our operation and so when The Trustee’s asked for our involvement my answer was a simple yes.”

Commenting on the format of the competition, judge John Cousins said: “Throughout the competition the finalists have been asked to undertake a variety of tasks, culminating in the luncheon service today.  All of this has been designed to provide opportunities for the finalists to demonstrate their abilities in service skills, customer care, and general professionalism.”

Fellow judge Sergio Rebecchi said: “Throughout this competition we have been impressed with the enthusiasm and diversity of all our entrants and we hope this will encourage anybody who works in hospitality to have a go in the future.”

Chairman of the Judges Edward Griffiths said: “We want this scholarship to inspire young people to join this profession and see what an opportunity it presents. By learning hospitality skills a world of possibilities opens up.”