José Núnez of The Stafford is crowned UK kitchen porter of the year

The winner of Winterhalter's 2017 KP of the Year is praised for having "A work ethic that cannot be compared"

Winterhalter’s 2017 Kitchen Porter of the Year award has been won by José Núnez of The Stafford, the historic five-star hotel in St James, London, UK, which first opened in 1912.

Núnez was nominated by Mark Surguy, The Stafford’s hotel manager, who says Núnez has “A work ethic that cannot be compared. He’s always smiling, he holds himself and every member of his team to the highest standards. Nothing is ever too much for him.”

The judges were impressed by the Núnez’s sense of initiative – citing a new kitchen storage solution he devised that has reduced breakages significantly at the hotel.

Núnez, who is originally from Spain, was presented with his winning trophy by Stephen Kinkead, managing director of Winterhalter UK. “After last year, I didn’t think the level of entries could get any higher. I was wrong. But in the toughest ever year, José is a truly worthy winner and he was the unanimous choice of the judges,” says Kinkead. “José won because of the outstanding work he does over and above the role of a Kitchen porter. He always has time for every employee, no matter how busy he is. He oversees the night cleaning to ensure it is up to his very high standards. The kitchen brigade never have to ask for anything as it is on hand before they realise they need it.”

The other three highly commended KPs for 2017 are Daniel Gligorov of the White Hart at Fyfield; Bayani Balba, of One Great George Street, Westminster; and Banjamin Berany, from The Vineyard, Newbury.

A big surprise

“I’m very surprised but happy to win this award and it was great to have my colleagues with me,” says Núnez, who was presented the award under the guise of a ‘team meeting’ arranged by Surguy. “I was shocked, it was a big surprise! I am very, very happy.”

Núnez receives a trophy, £1,000 in cash and a celebratory meal with friends, plus a Winterhalter machine for The Stafford. The three highly commended KPs also win trophies and £250 in cash. Plus, every KP nominated will receive a special KP of the Year apron, created by Oliver Harvey, in a presentation tin.

When asked what he intended to spend his winnings on, Núnez revealed that he will put the proceeds towards helping his family. “I live with my sister. It will help us as she has to go to the hospital very regularly,” he says.

Núnez has been at The Stafford for six years having previously been a supervisor at a security firm in his home city of Madrid. “It was my first job in the UK. Despite offers, I haven’t moved on as I love the hotel,” he says. When asked why he feels he won the award he replies: “Discipline, attention to detail, hard work, self motivation and finally respect for yourself, your colleagues, and for the job you do.”

Hardworking and humble

“We were delighted José won the KP of the year award, as he is not only an amazing KP, but he is also an amazing person,” says Stuart Procter, general manager of The Stafford. “The KP is the backbone to any great F&B team as without a clean, tidy and organised environment and the tools for the job such as clean pots, pans and crockery, chefs would never succeed and the ‘celebrity chef’ would not exist. Someone who has the passion, the work ethic and pride of where they work will result in an excellent KP.”

“José won our employee of the year award in 2016 out of 162 employees and it was a unanimous vote. He is a hardworking, humble and popular team player who always goes the extra mile and certainly never lets me or the kitchen brigade down.”

James Durrant, executive chef of the Stafford, is in full agreement, praising Núnez’s role in the success of the hotel’s The Game Bird restaurant, which opened earlier this year. “Having José here for the opening of the Game Bird has ensured everything went smoothly. We know we can always rely on him,” he says.

Kinkead says the role of the KP needs to be celebrated. “They are the glue that hold the brigade together. Not just for keeping the chefs topped up with everything they need but they do so much more,” he says. “They are the breakfast chef, pot washer, mise en place provider and all round entertaining Individuals to have around.”

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Michael Jones

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