Seven of New Zealand’s best and brightest individuals working in the hospitality and accommodation sectors have been recognised for their hard work at the inaugural Hospitality New Zealand Rising Stars Awards 2017.
Over 300 people from the hospitality community from all corners of the country gathered at Te Papa museum on Tuesday night to celebrate New Zealand’s hospitality sector.
Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Vicki Lee, said: “These brand-new awards are a way of giving our up and coming industry leaders some well-deserved national recognition.”
The Rising Stars Awards cover every aspect of the sector and are a chance for managers and mentors to personally nominate their most valuable staff. Five of the seven awards were recognising ‘Up & Comers’ in their respective fields.
Ricky Nguyen, Up and Coming Barista from Onehunga Café in Auckland, is known for his latte art. Ricky came to New Zealand five years ago to study and paid his way through that study as a barista. He has been with Onehunga Café since it opened and has progressed from barista, to head barista and duty manager. When he’s not making coffee, he can often be found teaching others the art.
Ms Lee said: “The judges loved his attitude to learning, seizing every opportunity to hone his barista skills and learning from the best but also generously passing those skills on to others.”
Up and Coming chef was Sara McFelin from Zest Restaurant, Timaru. Sarah started off as a junior chef in 2012 and has steadily worked her way up to running a busy kitchen.
Zest Restaurant owners Kristy and Grant Phillips say: “she is a talent they are more than happy to support, nurture and develop. It’s not often you find someone who cares as much about your business as you do.”
Front of House winner Nicole Kay has worked in the industry since she was 15 and has worked her way up to restaurant supervisor at Emberz at Ascot, Invercargill. Ms Lee said, “The judges loved her determination to learn about and be involved in the hospitality industry long term, including going home at night, researching menu items that she was unsure about, quizzing the Chef on them the next day before passing her new-found knowledge onto the guests.
D4 on Allen duty manager Josh Piper took out the Up and Coming Duty Manager Award.
“His desire and commitment to the role is what made Josh a stand out for this award,” said Ms Lee.
“With a heavy focus on host responsibility, providing a safe and enjoyable atmosphere for customers is top priority. Josh takes this role very seriously and has proven he can manage and handle situations in a highly professional manner.”
Quickly moving from duty manager to general manager then part owner of two Wellington businesses (El Horno and Arborist Restaurant and Roof Top Bar) Mat Learhas been awarded ‘Up & Coming Entrepreneur’ due to his journey, success and his giving back to the industry. The two businesses have flourished under Mat’s watch and the judges were very impressed with how he takes pride in developing and supporting his staff, just as he has been.
Emerging Accommodation Professional was awarded to Tayzha Tasman of Trek Global Backpackers in Wellington with judges noting Tayzha’s “focus on the well-being of her guests as exemplary”.
The Unsung Hero Award went to Jennifer Mulliss of Park Kitchen in Wellington with the general manager Tamara Staples saying: “Without Jeni we would have a grumpy kitchen, a dirty restaurant, sky high cleaning costs, and no one willing or able to do hardest job in the restaurant.”
THE FULL LIST OF WINNERS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
Emerging Accommodation Professional
Tayzha Tasman, Trek Global Backpackers, Wellington
Jennifer Mulliss, Park Kitchen, Wellington
Up & Coming Barista
Ricky Nguyen, Onehunga Café, Auckland
Up & Coming Duty Manager
Josh Piper, D4 on Allen, Wellington
Up & Coming Entrepreneur
Mat Lear, The Arborist Rooftop Bar & Restaurant
Up & Coming Front of House
Nicole Kay, Emberz at Ascot, Invercargill
Up & coming Chef
Sarah McFelin, Zest Restaurant, Timaru