More than 400 people attended the Caterer Middle East Awards 2017 at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah on Wednesday, May 24 to see who would be crowned this year’s winners.

This year, Whissle Hospitality Group were victorious in three categories with wins for Okku’s Brendon Charles — Sommelier of the Year, Claw BBQ Crabshack & Grill  for Casual Dining Team of the Year and Okku for Independent Restaurant Team of the Year. Okku’s Dimitris Panopulos also received a highly commended nod in the Waiter of the Year category.

The Croft also had multiple reasons to celebrate with Darren Velvick being highly commended as Head Chef of the Year — Hotel-Managed Outlet and a win for Restaurant Manager of the Year, Jane Nedanoski.

Newcomers Lock, Stock & Barrel won of Bar Team of the Year and Bartender of the Year was awarded to Bahri Bar’s Maria Essa Janina Sinay. The other beverage-focused award of the night went to Marvin Coelho from the Treehouse at the Taj Dubai. Restaurant Team of the Year — Hotel-Managed went to La Tablita at Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights who impressed the judges with their authentic take on Mexican food and hospitality.

Faisal Kaniyan was this year’s Kitchen Hero of the Year, while Restaurant Manager of the Year was won by Jane Nedanoski from The Croft, Dubai Mariott Harbour Hotel & Suites.

Emirates Leisure Retail won Events Catering Team of the Year and the prize for Restaurateur of the Year was awarded to Oliver Zeitoun, who co-founded Maki group with his brother, Amer Zeitoun, in 2004. Executive chef at Ossiano, Atlantis The Palm, Grégoire Berger, won Head Chef of the Year — Hotel-Managed while Michele Spadone of Aubaine was crowned Head Chef of the Year — Standalone Restaurant.

Caterer Middle East received almost 300 nominations that were whittled down to six shortlisted nominees per category. A group of independent F&B industry experts were called upon to make the final decisions. This year the panel included some new faces alongside returning judges.

The judges were: Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in Dubai director of culinary arts Michael Kitts; The Cutting Edge Agency founder Duncan Fraser-Smith; founder of bar consultancy company Pineapple, Rebecca Sturt; Ròya International general manager of F&B development & operations Andrew Morrow; Brandon Grusd, senior training manager and consultant at Fling Bar Services; ICCA Dubai founder, director & CEO Sunjeh Raja; Lynne Bellinger, founder of Purple Hospitality; Abela & Co corporate chef Colin Campbell; ITP Business editorial director Robert Willock; ITP Business Hospitality Group group editor Devina Divecha; and Caterer Middle East editor Claudia de Brito.

The Caterer Middle East Awards 2017 was sponsored by DMK Group, GEMCO, TSSC, A. Ronai, Unilever, Meat & Livestock Australia, Bragard, MMI, Aramtec, SIAL, Party Social, Newby Teas, and Acqua Panna and San Pellegrino.

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