032Newcastle restaurant waiter Jamie Tones has earned national recognition for his skills, winning the AAE, Annual Award of Excellence by the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts.

Jamie, 23, is the latest among five kitchen and front of house staff at renowned restaurant Café 21 to win such recognition in recent years.

The AAE is the most respected award available to professionals aged between 20 and 26 in the hospitality industry, recognising and encouraging the most talented chefs, pastry chefs and waiters.

His front of house colleagues Adam Chambers and Roy Ng have also, in recent years, earned the award in the service category, while Café 21’s head pastry chef Helen Doyle and sous chef Martin Malinowski have been awarded with the AAE in pastry and chef categories.

Jamie said: “I am very proud to receive the award. This year I was the only finalist representing the North East in all three categories, therefore I felt even more motivated to make the region proud.

“On the day of the finals I was nervous at first, but once it started I got into my rhythm and nailed it. Even though it was a great experience I’m quite relieved it’s all over now, as I had to train a lot in the run up to the final. I’m also very grateful to Adam and Roy who won the award previously. They helped me to prepare, giving some great advice.”

Before joining Café 21, on Newcastle Quayside, Jamie spent a year at Jesmond Dene House and a year at the famous Box Tree Restaurant, Ilkley, not far from Bradford where he’s originally from.

Following nine semi-finals around the UK, in which an unprecedented number of enthusiastic young chefs, pastry chefs and waiters competed, 47 candidates successfully reached the standard of excellence required to go through to the finals of the AAE that took place at The Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland.

Nick Shottel, operations director at 21 Hospitality Group, said: “I went along to the final, so I got to witness all the emotions Jamie went through. The team at Café 21 is very proud about how he managed to deal with the pressure and win another accolade to add to our great collection.

“21 Hospitality Group invests in training and young talent so we’re always very delighted when it pays off with our team members being awarded with national accolades.”