AA College Restaurant of the Year 2016

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Congratulations to Foxholes Restaurant at Runshaw College – the inaugural AA College Restaurant of the Year!

Launched in 2016 in partnership between People 1st and AA Hotel Services, the AA College Restaurant of the Year award recognises the hard work of chef lecturers and student brigades that run college restaurants.

Part of the AA’s annual Hospitality Awards, the award gives colleges an unprecedented opportunity to be part of one of the industry’s most prestigious events and put their restaurants well and truly on the map!

The award is only open to People 1st accredited colleges that have also been awarded an AA College Rosette.

Entering and being shortlisted for the award in 2016 offered a whole host of benefits, including: 


Judging day in central London

Two learners and a lecturer from each shortlisted college were invited to attend a special judging event at the Lancaster, London, where they competed in a day-long series of activities including creating a balanced menu and an interview with the judging panel.

They were also treated to:

  • An inspirational talk by Michelin-starred chef, Jason Atherton
  • An in-depth behind-the-scenes tour of the Lancaster London hotel with manager, Florian Broemel, and executive chef, Ben Purton
  • An exclusive goody bag

Watch highlights from the judging day below:

Could this be your college next year? Speak to a member of our team >


Awards evening

The AA Hospitality Awards is always one of the hottest dates in the industry calendar, and 2016 was no different!

Representatives from each of our three finalist colleges (University College Birmingham, Milton Keynes College and Runshaw College) joined over 1,000 movers and shakers from right across the sector as they came together on 26 September at the Grosvenor House hotel, Park Lane, to celebrate the very best of British hospitality – and unveil the 2016 AA College Restaurant of the Year!

Guests were treated to a gastronomic menu created by the 2015 AA Chefs’ Chef, Daniel Clifford, as they enjoyed the awards ceremony hosted by Hugh Dennis, with winners including Pierre Koffman, Simon Rogan and The Ritz.

Among the benefits for the finalists were:

  • Two complimentary tickets to attend the awards evening for each finalist college
  • Overnight accommodation for each of the finalists’ guests, sponsored by our accreditation panel
  • AA Award for the winning college
  • Special plaques for the runners-up
  • Four pages in the 2017 AA 2017 Restaurant Guide promoting college restaurants and the finalist colleges

As the winning college restaurant, Foxholes Restaurant also received a profile on the AA Hospitality Awards website, plus promotion in the post-event press releases.

The awards made a big media splash, with coverage in The Caterer, Eat OutBigHospitality as well as a number of local publications including the Lancashire Evening Post, the Lancashire Telegraph and the Chorley Citizen.

They also had phenomenal impact on social media, with 4,818 posts by 1,744 Twitter users on the evening, creating over 19 million impressions. It was even trending #1 in the UK at one point!

Here’s just a taster of some of the Twitter action:

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Could this be your college next year? Speak to a member of our team >


Post-awards events and promotion

Celebration lunch at Pennyhill Park

The three finalists of the AA College Restaurant of the Year award were all invited to an exclusive event to celebrate the success of People 1st’s college accreditation scheme, sponsored by and hosted at the stunning, 5-star Pennyhill Park hotel and spa in Surrey.

This included:

  • Two guest places at the lunch for representatives of each finalist college, with the opportunity to network with representatives from leading employers, industry bodies and other colleges
  • An invitation for two learners from each college to get valuable experience by helping prepare and serve the lunch with the Pennyhill Park team
  • The opportunity for one lecturer from each college to gain CPD by helping the team prepare and serve lunch
  • Learners from each college were each presented with special certificates of achievement at the end of the lunch.

View images from the day below:

Accreditation celebration lunch at Pennyhill Park - Oct 2016

The People’s Choice Award

We and the judging panel were so impressed by the fantastic quality of all the accredited college restaurants that entered that we felt that they all deserved a chance to be recognised – so we decided to award a People’s Choice Award!

The People’s Choice Award was open to all People 1st and AA accredited colleges that entered the AA College Restaurant of the Year award, and went to the college restaurant with the most popular video entry, as decided by an online poll.

An amazing 3,300 votes were cast, and The Brasserie at Milton Keynes College was crowned the winner, with The Waterfront Restaurant at Doncaster College a very close runner-up.

Both colleges received a special winner and runner-up certificate, as well as an exclusive logo to use on their menus and restaurant marketing materials.


Could this be YOUR college next year?

Read more about becoming a People 1st accredited college or contact our team below:

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Four ways hospitality accreditation can take your college to the next level

Jennifer Cruickshanks, head of hospitality at this year's AA College Restaurant of the Year award winner, Runshaw College, explains how accreditation has benefitted her department.

Read the blog