John Williams MBE Awarded The Restaurant Association Award for Special Services to Hospitality at the UKH Restaurant Association Gala Dinner

£41,000 raised for World Young Chef Young Waiter Education Foundation

The fifth annual UKH Restaurant Association Gala Dinner took place last night at The Savoy Hotel in the heart of London, organised by World Young Chef Young Waiter (YCYW), in association with UKHospitality and in partnership with title sponsors NEFT Vodka and Dojo.

Lisa Snowdon & Robert Walton MBE
Cyrus Todiwala OBE, Atul Kochhar, Sanjay Dwivedi.
World YCYW Finalist Elisa Doisneau, Paul Robinson (NEFT Vodka Chief Creative Officer), and World Young YCYW Waiter winner Tilly Morris

Celebrating Excellence in Food & Wine Service: the prestigious event was hosted by President of the Restaurant Association, founder of Nth Degree Club & chairman of World Young Chef Young Waiter Robert Walton MBE.

The Restaurant Association Award for Special Services to Hospitality 2022, designed and sponsored by Fabergé, was presented to John Williams MBE of The Ritz, by Robert Walton MBE.

From left to right: Miltan Masha, Elisa Doisneau, Ali Halbert, Tilly Morris, Robert Walton MBE, Andy Downton, Jayne Griffith Parry, Mario Perera

The event raised £41,000 for World Young Chef Young Waiter Education Foundation. The foundation offers apprenticeships, internships, and scholarships to young people from all walks of life – helping to break down the barriers for young people to succeed in all areas of hospitality.

Partners and sponsors include: NEFT Vodka, Dojo, The Old Head Golf Course, Great Campaign, Discover Global Network, American Express, Oldenburg Vineyards, Wine&Something, Frerejean Frères, The Fork, UKHospitality, UKH Restaurant Association, World YCYW, Fabergé and Hospitality Action.

Guests: This year’s guests included Brian Turner CBE, John Williams MBE, Celebrity Master Chef winner Lisa Snowdon, Sanjay Dwivedi, Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala, Francesco Mazzei, Dipna Anad, Atul Kutcher and Michael Caines.

Robert Walton MBE & Lisa Snowdon
Joshua Fabergé & John Williams

The Restaurant Association Award for Special Services to Hospitality 2022, designed and sponsored by Fabergé: John Williams MBE was presented with a pair of Fabergé “Treillage” cufflinks. This trellis pattern was favoured by Peter Carl Fabergé and these cufflinks are a modern day interpretation of the brand’s rich heritage.

John Williams MBE & Laura King MBE with King’s Fine Caviar
Robert Walton MBE, Joshua Fabergé & John Williams

Joshua Fabergé said: “The pursuit of excellence is central to both the hospitality and luxury goods industries. Fabergé are once again delighted to present the Restaurant Association Award for services to hospitality, this time to John Williams who created the ingenious “Eggs Fabergé” especially for us!”

John Williams MBE said: “I am so proud to accept this award as I am just a guy from South Shields! I really love hospitality and I love the job that I do. I feel very, very lucky to be in this position. I’ve worked my way up into being the executive chef of the Ritz and it’s been hard work so this is very special to me. Hospitality is really all about the people and how we cooperate and communicate with one another, and how we look after our guests – and it’s the most joyous thing! The new generation of people that have won tonight is just fantastic. I am really focused on the next generation and making sure that we are better at cooking – better than we think we are even now. So let’s keep pushing! I will treasure these beautiful Fabergé cufflinks, thank you!”

The Reception

Guests were treated to a Caviar and NEFT Vodka tasting during the reception, plus a Tasting Bar by world-renowned Champagne house Frerejean Frères, gave guests an opportunity to try a range of FJF Champagnes including: Blanc de Blancs, Premier Cru, NV; Rose, Premier Cru, NV; Brut, Premier Cru, NV; Extra Brut, Premier Cru, NV & Cuvee des Hussards, Premier Cru, 2012. Champagne Frerejean Frères, Extra Brut, NV was served for the duration of the evening. Wayne Woodward provided musical entertainment throughout the reception.

About Frerejean Frères

The independent craft house of Champagne was created in 2005 by the three brothers Frèrejean Taittinger, Guillaume, Richard and Rodolphe. They grew up with love and respect for the Champagne tradition, and taking from family heritage and local expertise, they produce artisanal champagnes inspired by modern luxury. Rooted in the terroir of the Côte des Blancs, they use small-scale production methods that respect the land.

Robert Walton MBE, Lisa Snowdon & George Smart
From left to right: Gulu Anand, Brian Turner CBE

NEFT Vodka Cocktail Challenge

At the start of dinner, guests were served two winning cocktails from the NEFT Vodka Cocktail Challenge from the World Young Chef Young Waiter final last week. The challenge was won by Elisa Doisneau, who represented Team England, alongside chef Miltan Masha at the Monaco final. The Earl’s Garden by Elisa Doisneau is a ‘tribute to British culture, transforming the classic ‘tea time’ into ‘drink time’!’ featuring NEFT Vodka, Earl Grey Tea, St Germain Liqueur, White Verjus, Peychaud’s Bitter, Salt & Bergamot.

Also served was a cocktail by Tilly Morris, the winning World YCTW Waiter 2022 from Wales, who was awarded the prize for most creative cocktail with I See the Sea, a cocktail inspired by Pembrokeshire in Wales and the people Tilly has met. This cocktail ‘brings a little piece of Wales to Monaco’ with Neft Vodka, Samphire, Oyster Leaf, Jalapeno Brine, Still Wild Extra Dry Vermouth, Bottle Green Elderflower Cordial & Lime Zest Bitters.

Paul Robinson, Chief Creative Officer, NEFT Vodka: “I was so impressed by the innovation and creativity of Elisa Doisneau of England. The cocktail she created, The Earl’s Garden, was so perfectly crafted and unique. I can’t wait to enjoy this special cocktail at the Restaurant Association Gala Dinner as we celebrate the industry. As a young progressive brand, it is such a pleasure to be involved with a competition that promotes and rewards young progressive talent in hospitality. Spirits and hospitality have always walked hand and hand and the future of these global industries depends on the energy and creative skills of enthusiastic innovators.”

Tilly Morris & Elisa Doisneau with their winning NEFT Vodka cocktails

The Savoy Menu

A four-course fine dining menu was served at the dinner, designed especially by the Savoy Hotel’s top chefs:


Creedy Carver Chicken and Rhug Estate game Terrine, NEFT vodka jelly, Truffle emulsion and young shoots

Heritage Beetroot, Cashel blue Cheese, truffle honey, Pedroni balsamic, Norfolk watercress Truffle Brioche

Dover sole, Oscietre caviar, Cornish Sea herbs, pearl barley risotto, Laurent Perrier Champagne sauce

Essex smoked Quinoa, Graceburn cheese, Hen of the woods mushroom, river ford organic butternut squash, winter truffle

Lemon and fennel bread – nori butter

Main course

Ayrshire beef fillet, bone marrow butter, braised shin and organic carrot tart, truffled shallot, sauce bordelaise

British root vegetable Wellington, winter chard, glazed salsify, port and onion sauce Baguettini, breadbasket, sourdough, Grissini


Banana, Passionfruit, Vanilla and Rapadura sugar, chocolate, and macadamia nuts Petit fours
Ispahan pate de fruits (Raspberry, Litchi, rose)
Cranberry and pistachio nougat, hint of Apricot
Chocolate Bonbon whiskey and Orange


Wine was provided by sponsors Wine&Something and Oldenburg Vineyards. Guests enjoyed a Oldenburg Vineyards CL° White Blend 2020, a Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay blend with notes of apple, pear and white peaches, zesty acidity and slightly buttery texture. This was followed by a Oldenburg Vineyards Merlot 2016 – deep and velvety with succulent dark berries, notes of clove and pine nuts and a hint of nutty oak leading to a rich, smooth finish. Finally a Chateau La Rame Les Coteaux De La Rame 2018 was lacy and fresh with notes of candied yellow plums, mandarin, pineapple and honey.

NEFT Vodka Lounge

There was an after-dinner lounge with music and drinks, hosted by NEFT Vodka.


Robert Walton MBE, chairman of World Young Chef Young Waiter & President of the Restaurant Association said: “It is an honour for me as President of The Restaurant Association to host our fifth Restaurant Association Gala Dinner in aid of the World Young Chef Young Waiter Educational Foundation, alongside our friends and partners in the hospitality industry. The Gala is once again a key event to celebrate the achievements and amazing successes of our industry. First of all, honouring John Williams MBE with our special award for Services to Hospitality which was much deserved for his wonderful career. World Young Chef Young Waiter is the future of our industry, targeting those who are 26 years and under in the hospitality industry and teaming up chefs and waiters to work together. It has long been an ambition of mine to take this unique competition to a global audience and thanks to funds from the World YCYW Education Foundation, we’ve been able to launch in eight countries this year. I’d like to thank everyone for their continued support as we look to nurture the next generation of hospitality.”

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “It’s always fantastic to be involved in this event and I’m delighted that UKHospitality continues to offer its support. I’m especially pleased that the event is raising money for the World Young Chef Young Waiter Education Foundation. The foundation does great work helping to get the next generation into our sector and perfectly complements the work we are doing to promote the variety of careers available in hospitality. As we’ll all be too familiar with, recruitment continues to be a challenge and following the launch of our Workforce Strategy last year, we’re engaging closely with the government on developing new routes into the sector and stressing the urgent need to address the immediate vacancies we continue to see.”

Sean Valentine FIH, Managing Director of World Young Chef Young Waiter said: “This year we have successfully launched World Young Chef Young Waiter in eight countries around the globe with a spectacular World Final planned for Monaco next month. The Restaurant Association Gala Dinner rounds off an incredible year post-pandemic that has put hospitality back on the map. The dinner is a celebration of our industry and all the funds raised go to help talented young chefs and

waiters flourish in hospitality. Thank you so much to all of our partners for their incredible support to make the World YCYW Education Foundation a reality.”

Guy Moreve, CMO at Dojo said: “The passion that restaurateurs, chefs, waiters and sommeliers bring to creating memorable dining experiences across the country is what makes the hospitality industry so special. Taking a moment to reflect on the last year’s biggest moments and celebrating them at the Restaurant Association Gala Dinner is more important than ever. That’s why we’re delighted to partner with the World Young Chef Young Waiter for another year to raise funds for Hospitality Action.”

Dan Kleeberg, CEO & President of NEFT Vodka said: Like the world’s best chefs and waiters at the RA Gala, NEFT is focused on delivering remarkable, memorable moments by delighting the senses and delivering ultra-premium taste experiences. NEFT Vodka is crafted in the Austrian Rhaetian Alps. The spirit is made of oxygen-rich spring water, four unique non-GMO ancient rye grains, and nothing else. No sugar is added. The result, a pure taste and refined flavour profile. Participating in the gala ensures that NEFT will be enjoyed by the most influential people in the hospitality industry. NEFT is thrilled to be a part of this great cause and support the next generation of hospitality leaders.”

Patrick Hooykaas, Regional Managing Director at TheFork said: “We’re thrilled to support the Restaurant Association Gala Dinner and its efforts in bringing together the best the industry has to offer, whilst championing the World Young Chef Young Waiter Education Foundation’s work to nurture emerging talent. It is an opportunity we as a brand fully support. Who knows, hopefully, in years to come, it will be the same talent coming back as future Gala guests!”

Brent Dornford, Marketing Director at The Old Head Golf Course said: “Old Head Golf Links are delighted to be working in association with Robert Walton MBE and World Young Chef Young Waiter for the Restaurant Association Gala Dinner at The Savoy Hotel. Renowned as the Most Spectacular Golf Course in the world, Old Head also incorporates a number of exclusive suites at course level beneath the incredible clubhouse each offering wonderful views of the Lighthouse and Atlantic Ocean beyond. Culinary excellence is achieved through a highly talented team utilising the most select of local ingredients from land and sea within the Lusitania Bar and De Courcey Restaurant. Combining with World Young Chef Waiter, the team were very proud to host the inaugural Hospitality Golf Classic in 2022, an annual event that continues into 2023 and which proved extremely popular with the multitude of Michelin chefs who were in attendance.”

Dale Agar, Co-Founder of Wine&Something said: “Wine&Something is proud to partner with the Restaurant Association Gala Dinner for the fifth year running. With hospitality back to its vibrant, lively best, we look forward to celebrating our incredible industry with you all tonight. Ambitious, innovative and gratifyingly different. Wine&Something is a contemporary wine merchant specialising in high quality wines from small production, family owned producers around the world.”

Louie-Joe Findlater, UK Director of Frerejean Frères said: “It is a privilege for Frerejean Freres to be poured at the Restaurant Association Gala dinner for 3 years in a row! Bringing together some of the best chefs and restaurateurs that Britain has to offer.”

Nic van Aarde, Winemaker at Oldenburg Vineyards said: “Oldenburg Vineyards is delighted to be part of the fifth RA Gala Dinner, in support of the hospitality industry. Tonight’s wines have been specially chosen to pair with the delicious food being served by the team of talented chefs and include Oldenburg Vineyards CL° White Blend 2020 & Oldenburg Vineyards Merlot 2016. Situated in an elevated valley of outstanding beauty in Stellenbosch, South Africa, our philosophy at Oldenburg Vineyards is less is more. Our intervention in the vineyards is minimal, allowing the grapes to benefit from the influence of our cool climate, diverse soils and mountain terroir.”

29th November 2022

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