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[image]It was ‘bravo' all round when 35-year-old Woodford Green residentRaúl Martínezwas named winner of a new industry award from an elite association believed to be the oldest culinary organisation in the UK. The restaurant manager of The Arts Club in London's West End was presented with theRéunion des Gastronomes Awardby Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, guest speaker at the organisation's 99thAnnual Banquet, a glittering event at the Langham Hotel, attended by senior figures and guests from the hospitality industry.

 [image]Martínez, whose fitness instructor wife Alicia (pictured) was also at the gala dinner, impressed the judging panel from the outset with his comprehensive research into the history and aims of the Réunion (believed to be the oldest culinary organisation in the UK). Also, during the in-depth interview processes, he provided structured feedback on how he would like to promote the aims of the Réunion to industry colleagues and help build awareness. "In addition he was proactive in arranging show-around visits with the other finalists - giving us confidence that he'll maximise the vast networking opportunities offered to our winner." Comments John Cousins, chair of the judging panel. "The other two finalists - and indeed the shortlisted candidates - were also very worthy contenders, but after careful consideration, Raúl proved to be the clear winner."

Raúl Martínez started his career working in his father's bar in Spain, studied food and beverage management, then gained a Tourism degree in Madrid with experience at the 3-star Zalacain. In the UK, he worked in restaurant service, moving on to becoming restaurant manager at Ibérica Food and Culture, London, before joining the Arts Club in 2012, and becoming became assistant restaurant manager soon after.

Martínez has won four two-day placements (stages) with expenses covered, across a raft of industry sectors. He will meet with the judging panel in early December to choose those best suited to his career development. He also receives invitations to attend five further Gastronome events in the next year, as well as benefitting from mentoring and networking opportunities throughout from the membership. He also now becomes an Associate Member of the Réunion des Gastronomes for four years. "We believe the total prize value for Raúl to be in excess of £3,000 and are delighted to see the inaugural award being awarded to such a worthy and aspiring winner, who's a great credit to our profession." Says Serge Pradier, President of the Réunion.

Martínez is a keen football and tennis player. He and Alicia (who is also from Spain) have a baby son - born earlier this year - and are often to be seen locally walking their Border collie in the Lords Bushes and frequenting local pubs and restaurants.


For further information, additional images from the event in high resolution, interviews with Raúl Martínez and/or the judges, please contact Alison Jee on 020 8744