London Venue Awards & London Catering Awards Judging Panel
Global Event Operations Manager, Association of Corporate Treasurers
The ACT Annual Conference attracts over 1500 delegates across 2 days and the ACT Annual Dinner 1500+ guests every year – staples in the association’s event calendar.
Prior to joining the ACT, Gemma gained experience working for publishing house Landor LINKS as Conference Manager looking after a diverse portfolio of national events in the planning and transportation fields including the much respected British Parking Awards.
General Manager, Royal Lancaster London
Sally has led the team through an £83m renovation whilst keeping the hotel open and achieving entry in The Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies to Work For over the last three years, voted for by her employees.
Sally and her team are passionate about giving back to the community. Now in its fifth year, Royal Lancaster London’s Community Consortium supports five charities within the local community. Sally works with local churches, the police, schools and residents to ensure that the chosen projects are supported fully and bring a meaningful difference to the local area as a whole. Together they help the homeless, work with The Clink Charity as well as Springboard and Hospitality Action.
Creative Director, The Hospital Club
Head of Business Events, Barbican
Her current role as Head of Business Events for The Barbican involves her working across its vast portfolio of venues, continuing its growth and commercial success in the domestic and international business events market, whilst blending in with the artistic offer to create bespoke and memorable events for business clients, and at the same time connecting with the arts programmes.
A winner in the supplier/venue category of the UK Event Hot 50 Awards 2016 and 2017, Jackie is regularly featured in a variety of meetings and events industry honours lists. These include C&IT’s Venue Heads, where she has been voted 3rd in the UK, along with Event Management’s Event 100 Club where she was placed 18th out of 100. She has also been included in C&IT’s Power 50 – the most 50 most influential people in the UK Meetings and Event industry.
Managing Director & Owner, Caper & Berry
Head of Business Development, Twickenham
Johanna has gained an admirable reputation within the meetings and events market place, both as a senior leader, a strategic thinker, and an experienced sales and marketing professional. However, her biggest challenge lies ahead as one of the key leadership figures behind the new East Stand, launching at Twickenham in the Autumn.
The new stand will play to many of Johanna’s strengths, her vast experience within the premium end of the meetings and events industry, her creative mind in encouraging new ways to curate conferences, and her extensive corporate contacts in opening-up new markets.
Operations Director, Camm & Hooper
Over the next few years, Jason enjoyed heading up a wide range of establishments in the capital including The Hospital Club and The Charlotte Street & Soho Hotel for Firmdale. All helped to form the his exceptional approach to business and service.
In early 2013 Jason was lured into a brand new venture with entrepreneur Claire Lawson to shake up the events industry by launching Camm & Hooper. The first site was just a stones throw from the Shard called Tanner & Co, this was the latest edition to the Bermondsey Street dining scene. That was five years ago now and Tanner has grown from strength to strength. It has played host to a variety of events from alternative weddings to social media soirees and of course the awesome bottomless brunch. It has also been rumoured that he is behind the behind the Camm & Hooper alter ego, Cornelius Lushington. True that they are never seen in the same place …
As Operations Director he now oversees five Camm & Hooper sites across London, with the two more on the horizon. The Captain’s ethos is an simple one – don’t default to the mundane, be better, be generous and always be a great host who creates fun.
James De Groot
Head of Catering, MCC
Experienced Head of Operations with a demonstrated history of working in the sports industry. Specialist in Operations Management, Project Management, Sales, Financial & Cost Management.
A highly driven & successful customer focused leader, currently responsible for the strategic development and continuous improvement of the food & beverage offer across the Club’s exciting Master Plan.
As a leader who believes that actions and attitudes speak louder than words, I enjoy the challenge of coaching a large team to continuously push the boundaries and innovate in food, drink and service for MCC. Over recent months I’ve particularly enjoyed launching Lord’s Dining Club, expanding our target audience, bringing Michelin Dining into the Home of Cricket.
General Manager, QEII Taste, Queen Elizabeth II Centre
Jason is General Manager at the QEII Centre where he has been based for 3 years, transforming the catering served at the venue.
With over 20 years’ experience in event delivery at high volume venues including The Brewery he brings with him a mix of strategic and operational capabilities.
Director of Food, The Brewery
Coming back from Sydney I wanted to focus in the event industry and I got my first chance at Dish Catering as Executive Chef, spending 4 years there I then got the chance to join The Recipe again as Executive Chef which was a great experience.
From there I was head hunted for The Brewery where I hold the position as Food Director, 8 years on we have doubled the business and plan on opening new ventures over the next few years which is all very exciting.
General Manager, The Ritz, London
Head of Events, The Hurlingham Club
General Manager, The Hard Rock Hotel, London
Executive Head Chef, Delaware North
Gary Foakes joined Delaware North UK to mobilise the former Olympic stadium – the London Stadium in 2016. Following 11 years with contract catering company ARAMARK as regional Executive head chef, Gary was presented with the unique opportunity to manage all culinary operations at the iconic Stadium venue in East London now home to Premier league team West Ham United.
The London stadium has hosted world stage concerts, world athletics events, premiership rugby and this year hosts the first ever European Major League Baseball 2-day series, it is also a venue of choice for many conference and banqueting events 365 days a year.
Gary’s passion for working in sport service started as senior executive chef for the athlete’s village at London 2012, where 1.8 million meals were served for the athletes across the 12 weeks games period making this one of the biggest food service events in the world. Gary was part of the mobilisation and was seconded from the core business for the 18-month project under the leadership of Culinary Director Gerard O’Sullivan.
Gary has worked through the ranks of professional kitchens over his 25-year career starting out in his hometown in the Cotswolds, moving to London at 20 working through restaurants and hotels having the opportunity of working for some of London’s culinary giants.
Head of Gallery Hosted Events, National Gallery
Director of Business Tourism & Major Events, London & Partners
Prior to joining London & Partners Tracy had over 20 years’ experience in senior sales and marketing positions in the tourism industry. She has worked with Millennium and Copthorne Hotels, Thistle Hotels, Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts and has held numerous property-based Director of Sales & Marketing roles within London and the UK.
Tracy was awarded an MBE for services to business tourism in 2014.
Owner, London Launch
Peter’s main focus (in his work life) is to help connect event planners and buyers with the best venues and suppliers for their events. Peter also works with venues and operators to help them improve their commercial performance. He owns, runs and manages Londonlaunch.com, which is a platform for the events industry and also the Venue Performance Report, which is the UK’s only benchmarking report for event venues and operators. Peter is a commercial leader in technology with a wide range of skills including digital marketing, sales lead generation, targeted marketing, creative content & SEO
Head of Sales, The Mermaid, London
He leads a team with drive and enthusiasm to deliver sales campaigns which result in achieving the ambitious targets set.
He has a wealth of knowledge in a number of event areas and proactively seeks new business routes to bring a wide variety of events to this high profile, City based venue.
Mo is firmly established within the meetings and events sector and loves to exceed client expectations.
Head of Event Strategy, Operations & Client Services, Haymarket Media Group
General Manager, The Kia Oval
Since returning full-time to the UK, Alex has run the catering operations at Ascot racecourse before becoming General Manager of The Kia Oval in 2018.
His passion for delivering quality catering solutions at major sporting events has led to a diverse and well-travelled career but is delighted to be based back in the UK working for one of London’s most iconic sporting venues.
Head of Business Development, The Brewery
Managing Director, Eden Caterers
Nick has had over 25 years working in the UK hospitality sector, remarkably 23 of them at Eden. Nick has worked in every role within the business over this time, however, settled into the role of Sales & Marketing Director some years back before taking over as Managing Director in 2018.
Nick & Eden’s passion for sustainability is well documented with Eden now regarded as of the UK’s most sustainable caterers, employing over 100 staff from their central London base in Waterloo.
Nick’s craving for food and fitness combines in his travels around the world – from Street Food in Vietnam, Yoga in Bali to Scuba Diving in Greece
Managing Director, Ultimate Experience
Founder and Chief Executive, Green & Fortune
In 2017 Green and Fortune launched Sea Containers Events, on London’s South Bank, in the iconic building of the same name. This premium events venue has panoramic views of London and has had immediate success in its first year.
Prior to launching Green & Fortune John was Chief Executive of Searcys, taking it from a two site focused business to a large and significant operator in the bespoke end of the food service and events sector. He was also managing director of Richard Corrigan’s restaurant company.
John was a founding director of the Kings Cross Business Partnership. He is trustee and chairman of Global Generation, a food, training and sustainability charity. He also works with Sadler’s Wells Theatre on the catering strategy.
Senior Consultant - Awards & Campaigns, Lidl
In 2017 I was appointed Head of Awards within Lidl’s Marketing team. I initially joined Lidl’s PR team after launching the supermarkets first ever PR campaign for its French wine offering in 2014, since then I have been promoted internally a number of times and now oversee all awards for the business, as well as a number of above the line campaigns including Big On Quality, Lidl on Price. I’m a huge foodie, I am fortunate to have been able to travel far and wide in pursuit of great food, and my travels have seen me venture to amazing places like Noma in Copenhagen and Tokyo’s famous fish market.
General Manager, InterContinental London - The O2
He has 16 years of exceptional leadership and business development in the hotel hospitality industry. He is an effective communicator with superior analytical skills and a strategic approach to business and people development. Success has been built by delivering high quality customer service, achieving operational targets through creatively empowering staff along with building a driven and motivated TEAM. His leadership is built around powerfully communicating a clear vision, with a strong sense of purpose, personal commitment, competitive drive and a spirit of determination to deliver key business goals. The drive and determination continues to Aspire to Inspire !
Director of Venues, Venue Lab
Prior to joining Venue Lab, Claire has had a prosperous career in event management, having worked for the award-winning CH & Co Group’s ITA* Venues, where she managed sales and events for high-profile properties including The Law Society, The Royal College of Surgeons, ZSL London Zoo, Old Royal Naval College, The In & Out and The Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
She has also been honoured with several awards throughout her career, including; a gold award for MIMA Best Brochure for Little Black Book and gold for CH & Co’s Excellence Award for Learning and Development. Claire was proud to be a finalist in the Event Awards Event Team of the Year in 2016 for ITA and number 50 of Event Magazine’s Top 100 Influential Event Professionals in the same year.
Founder / Commercial Director, Tobacco Dock
Tobacco Dock hosts in excess of 250 events per year and is the destination of choice for many of the world’s leading brands, organisations and their agencies including Apple, Accenture, Samsung, Google, Deloitte, EY, Barclays, JP Morgan, Cisco and the BBC. Skylight London, the rooftop bar and competitive socialising concept was launched in 2017 – an urban lawn club in the summer and Europe’s only rooftop ice rink in the winter.
Prior to this Jonathan spent over 20 years in live events and brand communications both agency and client-side, producing product launches, leading brand experience programmes and activating sponsorship globally for brands including AMD, General Motors, SanDisk, Johnson & Johnson, LG, Guinness and Grey Goose. He is a member of EVCOM and the Marketing Society.
Vice President and General Manager, The O2
Steve joined The O2 in 2014 as Commercial Director, overseeing ticketing operations, merchandising, food and beverage and corporate sales, along with securing exhibition content and managing Up at The O2, the roof walk attraction over the venue. In this role he worked closely with the AEG Europe leadership team to manage a number of capital improvement projects to identify and activate new revenue streams and enhance the fan experience. Prior to this, Steve was Operations Director for Manchester City Football Club and was responsible for match day and major event operations.
General Manager, Hilton Park Lane
After graduating from university, Michael joined Hilton over 40 years ago. More recently, he has been General Manager of the Langham Hilton and thereafter Managing Director at The Savoy before rejoining Hilton on Park Lane some 13 years ago.
He has overseen extensive refurbishment works and has launched a number of new restaurants and bar operations, working with celebrity chefs, including Gordon Ramsey, Marcus Wareing, Chris Galvin to name just a few. Michael played a pivotal role within the bid Committee in seeing London’s nomination to host the Olympic Games in 2012 and was awarded host headquarter hotel for the IOC throughout the games period. He has received several awards, including; General Manager of the Year; Recipient of a Catey; Best Business Hotel in the UK, for five consecutive years in Business Traveller Magazine, and the list goes on.
Michael is also a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality and a Master Innholder and has an honorary doctorate from Thames Valley University. Most importantly, Michael received Surrey University’s Vice Chancellor Alumni Award in 2012 in recognition of his exceptional contribution to Society and the role of hospitality in the UK.
In writing Michael’s legacy, he has seen many dozens of colleagues work alongside him and he has supported their development to senior leaders and General Manager’s in our company all over the world. They consider him an ideal example of the consummate hotelier and a fine leader. In addition he continues to mentor many aspiring hoteliers and also supports the Master Innholders Mentorship Programme.
Managing Director, Eventist Group
The success of the company has led to many exciting projects, such as bars at Glastonbury and Henley Regatta, corporate and chalet catering at Farnborough, Paris and RIAT airshows, magnificent events at London’s most historic palaces and museums, venue partnerships with Grade 1 listed venues Syon House and Tobacco Dock and elegant dining on board some of London’s finest vessels. Clients continue to include some of the world’s greatest brands for gala dinners, conferences and events as well as private clients for festivals, parties and weddings.
Managing Director, Etc venues
2006 was a pivotal year for Alastair when he left Rentokil Initial, where he had been MD of the conference venue business, Initial Style Conferences. With initial private equity backing from Dunedin Capital Partners and secondary buyout backing from Capital Growth Partners he has grown etc.venues, the specialist city centre venue company, into one of the UK’s leading conference brands.
The business has quadrupled in size since 2006, hosting over 17,000 events in 2017 across 15 venues in London and a further 1 each in Birmingham and Manchester – with the most recent opening at County Hall attracting significant attention for its bold scale.
Alastair was an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of Year finalist in 2009 and again in 2013 and has recently featured in The Daily Telegraph, Conference News, FGP Meets, Start Up Grind, Future in 15 and The Sunday Times.
Alastair is an enthusiastic golfer, tennis player and skier. He is married with 2 children and lives in Berkshire.
Director of Sales & Marketing, QEII Centre
Since the centre rebranded, Diane has been responsible for changing perceptions of QEII by hosting spectacular showcase events to demonstrate the venue’s creativity and flexibility, including transforming the venue into a pop-up circus tent complete with Victorian strongmen and ringmaster, a secret garden and a 1950s drive-thru cinema featuring classic Mustangs, going back to the 80s for QEII’s 30th birthday immersive event and creating an underground warren leading into a blossoming daffodil for the centre’s most recent showcase, Bloom.
Diane has a career portfolio including senior roles at the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), Natural History Museum, Searcy’s at the Barbican and the Tower Thistle Hotel. She currently sits on the board of venue marketing consortium Westminster Venue Collection, is the chair of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) UK & Ireland and is the former chair of London City Selection.
Head of Hospitality, Institute of Directors, 116 Pall Mall
Jeremy started his career with The Admirable Crichton, planning events for clients across the UK and Europe. After 10 years, he was tempted by a job offer in the Caribbean where he worked for a year on the Island of St Barth’s, reopening the luxury Eden Rock hotel.
Returning to the UK, he joined Searcys and spent four years at the Barbican as GM running the events, restaurant and public bars. He then moved to the British Museum with European caterers Do&Co before going onto Benugo and running the caterer’s hospitality arm for four years, including the fledgling event catering business Clerkenwell Green.
At 116 Pall Mall he has overseen a refresh of the sales department, including a redesign of the brand and new website to promote the commercial operation of the building. He is also a board member of the Westminster Venue Collection.
Outside of Events he is chair of governors at the local nursery, coach at mini rugby club, father of three and husband to one, amateur gardener and lover all of things food and drink related.
Founder & Director, Blue Strawberry & Table Talk
General Manager, De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms
Head of Events & Commercial Services, Historic Royal Palaces
Liz now works within the heritage sector and, as Head of Events for Historic Royal Palaces, has strategic responsibility for the commercial events business across 6 royal palaces, working to find ways of maximising opportunities within these unique and sensitive buildings.
Managing Director, TXF
Samantha Gunston, Head of Events, Newtrade
Harsh Joshi, General Manager, The Cinnamon Club
Joanna Moody, Creative Director, Zafferano Catering
Matt Saunders, Executive Chef – Events, Rhubarb