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A young Scots waiter has won a prestigious UK-wide ‘Waiter of the Year’ award.

Lewis Hunter from Kinross, who works at the world famous Gleneagles Hotel, received the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts (RACA) Young Waiter of the Year award at a celebratory dinner in London in July.

Lewis, 23, was one of the first beneficiaries of the Scottish Hospitality Apprenticeship scheme, an industry-led initiative launched in 2014.  The programme provides truly world class on-the-job training across all aspects of the modern luxury hotel industry.  Lasting three years, it offers a route to gaining qualifications alongside practical experience in some of Scotland’s leading hotels.

To win the award, Lewis was required to decant and describe wine to the judging panel, as well as set up and serve a three-course meal with wines and liqueurs to a table of two guest judges.

Lewis said: 'When it was announced that I had won UK Young Waiter of the Year, at first I was shocked and then elated! Serving the judges at both the semi-finals and final was extremely nerve wracking but I drew on the skills that I have learned over my four years working at Gleneagles to help me achieve something that I have wanted to since I began my career in hospitality.

“I don't think I would have been able to succeed if I wasn't a part of the Scottish Apprenticeship in Hospitality as this has given me the opportunity to gain skills and have experiences that I otherwise wouldn't have had. 

“I am delighted to win this award and was extremely proud to represent Gleneagles and the Scottish Apprenticeship in Hospitality throughout the competition and at the awards dinner in London.”

Lawrence Durden, Tourism Industry Manager at Skills Development Scotland said: “This is a fantastic accolade for Lewis and a massive endorsement of the Scottish Hospitality Apprenticeship scheme.  In today's competitive tourism market, having people with the high level hospitality skills to complement Scotland's attractions is vital.  Recognition such as this award shows that our collaborative approach with industry is delivering an enhanced learning experience and highly professional staff.”

Hosting the event, John Williams, chairman of the RACA said: “I hope that through the Annual Awards of Excellence we can motivate and inspire the industry’s young chefs, pastry chefs and waiters to undertake a career of training first themselves, and then others; and to look outside the workplace to wider industry and opportunities.”

The apprenticeship scheme is supported by Skills Development Scotland through its Modern Apprenticeship programme and by training partners Training Matters, MGT Training and Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland. 

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