Looking back on 2019 as ACE Chair

20 December 2019
- Ace News
by Sue Thompson

As I sit writing this, I'm struggling to believe we are almost at the end of 2019. The last six months since I took over as the new Chair of ACE have absolutely flown by. My role as Chair began back in July at the ACE Robyns Awards and our popular summer event, which this year was held at Kings Place.

My aims for ACE

It was fantastic to see the progress which Gaye Bullard made in championing the next generation and my number one aim is to carry on this work. Most of the board has worked in the industry for a long time and we are all conscious that for ACE to continue for decades to come we need more young blood involved who will drive it forward in the future.

Putting the spotlight on young people was one of the reasons why the ACE Robyns were launched a few years ago and we have developed Ready Steady Cook to put more focus on young chefs. At all our events now, we encourage the more senior members of the industry to invite their younger team members as guests. By doing this, it also brings a new angle to our events, where ideas can be shared amongst everyone in the industry and it has given these networking opportunities a fresh feel.

Highlights in 2019

I was asked to think about some of my highlights so far as Chair. One of those would have to be this year's Ready Steady Cook event. As it was the 21st birthday of the competition it felt extra special and was so exciting to watch. From a cooking point of view, it was one of the closest competitions we've ever had with just a few points between all of our top three teams. BaxterStorey took home the title after some truly incredible cooking and teamwork.

Another highlight was the recent event held at Pomona's restaurant in London. Our Chef Patron, Ruth Hansom inspired everyone in the room when she talked about her move to London at just 16 years old. We learnt about the experience she gained with five years working at The Ritz and the career moves she has made since then. Ruth has already won the Craft Guild of Chefs Young National Chef of the Year Award and competed in the UK selection for Bocuse d'Or a few months ago. The guests were really captivated by her story and we were all lucky enough to sample her cooking.

There's more to come

With the first next generation event being such a success, it seemed right to get cracking with another one. This will take place in February at Boyds in London with Simon Stenning exploring the Future of Foodservice. It promises to be an insightful evening, especially when you consider that the young people of today will be working in senior positions in ten years' time.

Looking ahead to 2020

My hope and aim for 2020 is to grow the ACE membership. Everyone always enjoys our events starting with the Charity Dinner on the 21st February. Due to popular demand we are heading back to The Langham where we'll be raising money for Hospitality Action. Our annual Quiz Night is also back on the 7th of April this time at IET London: Savoy Place and is set to provide more fun and games for members and their guests. Colleagues enjoy each other's company away from the day job and we get a fantastic turnout with around 36 teams battling it out every year.

ACE truly is a special organisation. Day in day out we are all competitors, but when we get together, there is no hidden agenda. Our meetings and events are always simply about networking, inspiring each other and celebrating an area of hospitality which doesn't always get the limelight but is incredible to work in. I couldn't be any prouder to be involved and play my part in driving it forward.

Blog written by
Sue Thompson
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