Two catering professionals at city-centre restaurant Opus at Cornwall Street have been announced as semi-finalists in this year’s Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Annual Awards of Excellence, the most prestigious award available to young people in the industry today.
This year has seen the awards receive an unprecedented number of entries of an extraordinarily high standard and Gabriella Murea, waitress, and Kevin Steele, sous chef, have reached the semi-final stage of the service and kitchen awards respectively, alongside candidates from celebrated London restaurants such as Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and Claridge’s. With a high-profile judging panel including celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, the awards are designed to encourage young people to achieve the highest possible standards in their profession.
Gabriella, 26, has worked at Opus for just five months whilst studying hospitality and events management at UCB, and has already taken part in the service semi-final, which took place at The Ritz on Saturday 21st March. Speaking about the day, she said: “I spent two weeks preparing and studying hard for the semi-final. I sat a written test of 75 questions, which asked everything from which countries different bottles of water are from to which glasses to use for various wines, it was very thorough. I think it went well and now I’m just waiting to hear if I’ve passed.”
Kevin, also 26, has worked at Opus for nearly three years and will be taking part in the regional kitchen semi-final on Wednesday 8th April at UCB, where he will be required to undertake a challenging theory and practical skills test.
Ann Tonks, managing director at Opus restaurant, said: “To have Gabriella and Kevin shortlisted is a huge achievement for them both. The majority of their competitors are from top London restaurants and to have the pair flying the flag for Opus, Birmingham and the industry as a whole is fantastic. We are committed to developing our kitchen and front of house teams and this competition gives them a great opportunity to develop their skills further. We couldn’t be more proud that they have reached this stage in such a demanding competition and they have the support of all of their colleagues.”