IOH Awards 2019

Hospitality in their hearts

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Congratulations to Stephen Chambers and Jacqueline Thompson for winning big at the 2019 Institute of Hospitality (IOH), Northern Ireland Awards. The awards recognise talented individuals who have contributed to their business and the industry in Northern Ireland over the past year, with record entries in 21 categories.

Jacqueline, front of house assistant from Corporate Services, won the ‘Unsung Hero award’ at this year’s award ceremony. The award is for outstanding individuals at any level who were nominated by a work colleague or manager. She was nominated by her line manager not only for her excellent customer care standards and the glowing testimonials from customers at client Allstate’s busy coffee shop, but also for her charity work.

Jacqueline Thompson IOH 2019

Pictured: Jacqueline (second from left) being presented with the Unsung Hero Award by Marianne Hood, chair of IOH NI, Gemma Hynes from category sponsor Net Affinity and UTV presenter Pamela Ballantine, the Awards host

Government & Agencies Stephen Chambers won the prestigious ‘Contract Catering Chef of the Year award’. He is executive chef for the Police Service of Northern Ireland. This is the third year that a Sodexo chef has been awarded the title.

The ‘Contract Catering Chef of the Year award’ goes beyond a cooking competition! Stephen was up against some tough competition and was judged solely on his ability to lead and manage within a kitchen environment. The judging included criteria such as his ability to implement initiatives to drive key performance indicators (KPIs), enhancing employee engagement through leadership, improving health and safety within the operating environment as well as demonstrating a significant contribution to the industry.

Stephen Chambers IOH 2019

Pictured: Stephen (second from left) being presented his award by Marianne Hood, chair of IOH NI, Michael Murphy, from category sponsor Irwin’s Bakery and UTV presenter Pamela Ballantine, the Awards host

We caught up with Stephen to find out more about his experiences that led to him being awarded.

Tell us a bit about your role. What does a typical day look like?

Every day is different. On a normal day, I oversee the team, checking they are all okay. I also make sure deliveries are correct and that everyone is confident with the daily menus. These are menus which I have adapted are in line to current food trends. I make sure that the counters are supplied with a full market mix. I also strive to maximise sales and I work closely with other chefs from different sites to help them develop themselves further.

Why did you decide to be a chef?

I have always had an interest in food from a young age. At 15 I started part-time in a bakery and my love for food progressed from there.

What do you like most about your role?

I particularly enjoy mentoring and passing on the skills I have learned over the years, not only to other chefs, but also food service assistants. Northern Ireland has some wonderful ingredients and I enjoy working with local produce although being Scottish, Scottish produce slightly edges the vote!

What’s been your proudest Sodexo moment?

Winning Star Award for National Salon Ireland in 2016 has been my proudest moment.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by watching someone that I have mentored and taught progressing in their career, be it within the company or in competitions - this inspires me to keep on passing my knowledge to others.

How are you focussing on growth within your area?

Increasing sales is a key part of my role, so by keeping up to date with the latest food trends that are out there, I can develop menus based on popular food that will drive spending. Street food is a big love of mine and bringing Street Food Evolution into the unit has seen a sales increase.

How has Sodexo supported you in entering these awards?

I had great support from Alaistair (account manager), Pamela (Group manager) and Cathy (Craft Development chef) with the whole process of the IOH Awards, from working on my presentation to the final interview where I did a mock presentation in front of them (which was quite nerve racking as I was trying not to laugh!).

Why is it good for people to enter external awards?

It gives people motivation and confidence to further their careers. It’s a good way to develop their skills and bring out a little of their personality in what they are preparing. It’s addictive too! When people find out they enjoy these kinds of awards and competitions, they want to enter more. It definitely brings out that competitive side in you!

Well done to both Stephen and Jacqueline! It’s fantastic to see Sodexo talent like yours being recognised. For more information about the Institute of Hospitality, Northern Ireland Awards, please click here.


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