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Jessica Thompson MIH wins Restaurant Manager of the Year 2024

An emotional Jessica Thompson MIH from Mingary Castle, Scotland, won the coveted Restaurant Manager of the Year 2024 title, sponsored by The Hari Hotel, on Friday night (26 April 2024), at a glittering Winner’s Reception at the Hotel Café Royal, London. Ingrid Maend, Restaurant Manager at The Stratford Hotel, London was runner-up.

General Manager and co-owner of Mingary Castle, in Kilchoan, Scotland, Jessica fought off tough competition from 21 other finalists during a rigorous day of competition, to scoop the title and claim her position as the Institute’s 14th winner of the Restaurant Manager of the Year competition.

Jessica, who has worked in hospitality for 12 years, opened  Mingary Castle Restaurant with rooms, a 13th-century castle in one of the most remote areas of Scotland (Ardnamurchan), in 2021 with business partner and Chef-Patron, Colin Nicholson.

Colin had worked with Jessica at Albert and Michel Roux Jnr’s Seasgair restaurant at Inverlochy Castle when Jessica was the Restaurant Manager and he was Head Chef in 2018.  He knew then if he were to open his own business, he would want Jessica to be part of it.

Alongside the Restaurant Manager of the Year 2024 title, Jessica’s existing list of accolades is impressive. She won Code Hospitality’s 30 under 30 Pioneering Award in 2022 and an Acorn Award in 2023. Since co-founding her business, Mingary Castle has been included in The Times Top 100 Places to Stay in Britain in 2023 and 2024, won Best Newcomer at the Scottish Excellence Awards in 2023 and was awarded three AA Rosettes in 2024.

Speaking about her win Jessica said: ”I am overwhelmed. I felt like a small fish in a large pond but it’s been an incredible experience. The finalists have all been incredible and the judges have been so supportive.

“I am extremely passionate about the hospitality industry and believe it is one of the most rewarding careers you could have. I want to thank all the people who have supported, encouraged and believed in me. This award and the incredible prizes that go with it, will help me develop myself professionally and be a better leader. Winning the Restaurant Manager of the Year Award 2024 has made me fall in love with hospitality all over again.

Along with the Restaurant Manager of the Year 2024 title and trophy, Jessica also receives 12 months’ Institute of Hospitality (IoH) membership, a tailored, IoH professional development mentoring programme, a day at HIT Training’s Chef’s Academy, a night stay with dinner for two at Gleneagles, a one night stay at the Melia White House, a three-course dinner with drinks at The Lampery, London, a champagne afternoon tea at Gouqi, and invitations to all the Institute’s prestigious events for a year.


Ingrid Maend, Restaurant Manager at The Stratford Hotel at the Olympic Park in London, was this year’s Restaurant Manager of the Year 2024 runner-up.

Impressing the judges with her attitude, skills and commitment to mentoring her team, Ingrid said: “This is such a surprise. It was a challenging and fun competition with lots of tasks to complete throughout the day. Everyone has been so supportive. Hospitality is an industry where you never stop teaching or learning and this competition has helped me grow in so many ways today. I love my job and hospitality is my passion and my hobby. I just love making people happy. I can’t believe I am the runner-up.”

As runner-up Ingrid receives invitations to all the Institute’s prestigious events for a year, 12 months IoH membership, professional IoH mentoring, a wine tasting experience or a Dine & Delight package at The Lazy Ballerinas, Temple Court, a one-night stay with dinner at the new luxury rural hotel Pine Trees in Pitlochry, a one-night stay with dinner at The Stratford along with gifts from Pact Coffee and Prosecco Doc.

The remaining 20 semi-finalists didn’t leave empty-handed. They all received invitations to all the Institute’s prestigious events for a year, 12 months of IoH membership giving them access to a vast range of professional resources, including mentoring to help them develop their careers. They also received a range of gifts from Pact Coffee and Prosecco Doc.

Speaking at the event, Institute of Hospitality CEO Robert Richardson FIH MI said: “The standard of entries year-on-year continues to astound us and this year has been no exception. The energy, passion, talent, and dedication of all our finalists have been fantastic and truly represent the diverse hospitality profession. A huge congratulations to Jessica, our 14th winner, who adds her name to an impressive list of previous winners and to Ingrid our runner-up.  And I’m also delighted to welcome all 22 of our talented finalists into the Institute’s membership and our Hospitality Family.”

At the end of a nail-biting day of competition, Sarah Peters FIH, IoH Head of Events said: “Thank you to all our finalists. They have worked incredibly hard today and I’m so proud of what they have achieved. They certainly exceeded our expectations in terms of their talent, their passion and their commitment to the hospitality profession. A massive thank you to our incredible judges, led by our Chair of Judges Alper Zan MIH, who gave their valuable time to help us support and guide the competitors throughout the long day of challenges. If today is anything to go by, the future of hospitality is in good hands!”

None of this would have been possible without our headline sponsors The Hari Hotel, London and Menzies, The Hotel Café Royal, for looking after us so well, to Prosecco DOC and Pact Coffee for supplying our guests with amazing Prosecco and Espresso Martinis, to Foodbuy and Splendid Hospitality, our Gold Business Partners for their support.

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