The Association of Catering Excellence (ACE) has laid on a series of inspirational events to encourage young people in the food service industry to mingle with their peers. Newly appointed Chair, Sue Thompson has enlisted the support of both up and coming stars, and established industry veterans including Ruth Hansom, Emily Roux and Simon Stenning to host Q&A round table sessions.
They are aimed at the ACE Robyns alumni, of which there are now over 40, and will be by invitation only. Sue says:
“As an organisation, we’ve had our eye on the Next Generation for a while and it’s great to be able to offer an audience with these prestigious people. So much networking now takes place on line but there’s nothing like a face to face meeting to build rapport and establish long-lasting relationships. Many of our ACE members work in competitive companies, but when we’re out at events, we’re friends first and foremost.”
The established events held by ACE also have youngsters in mind. Ready Steady Cook celebrates its 21st anniversary on 26th September and requires one of each pair of chefs to be 26 or under. There is a special ‘Young Chef’ award and this year, the prize for the winner will be work experience with Adam Handling who, at 31 years old already has a string of successful restaurants in London.
Adam Handling said of the special ‘Young Chef’ award: “I’m thrilled to be working with ACE to offer their Young Chef winner work experience in one of my kitchens. I’ve always made sure my kitchens showcase fresh talent – it’s vital to celebrate and support emerging chefs in this industry and to nurture their passion for what can often be quite a difficult and high-pressured career to start out in.
“I still remember my mentors from when I started out at 16; it was their guidance that helped me really develop as a chef and get me to where I am now, so to be able to help mentor the next generation of chefs is an absolute privilege for me. I can’t wait to welcome them into my team and start cooking!”
This year’s ACE Robyns winner, Bee Armstrong from The Genuine Dining Company is looking forward to joining the ACE Board as has become customary for ACE Robyns winners and alumni.
Armstrong commented: “I was thrilled to win the ACE Robyns Award. I have previously attended the Ready Steady Cook event and the Quiz Night and knew about ACE and their philosophy and charity work. The younger generation network in different ways than the traditional meet and greet; they use social media to follow peers and colleagues and connect with those they find inspiring. The benefit of the ACE events is that you can network with a much larger group of industry people all in one place – I’m looking forward to getting involved!”