Paris, 21 October 1999 - Claire Menck, food and beverage manager of the Radisson Hotel Mayfair in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Nishan Silva, manager of the Emperor's Wok restaurant at the Colombo Hilton in Sri Lanka, have been named "Young Restaurateurs of the World" 1999 by the International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA). The award was presented today at the IH&RA Annual Congress, meeting this week in Durban, South Africa.

The "Young Restaurateurs of the World" designation is an extension of the Young Hoteliers of the World award, created with the IH&RA's official journal HOTELS magazine in 1992 to recognise outstanding achievement among hospitality professionals under the age of 30. "The award recognises professionalism, commitment to excellence and service to the community among the new generation of restaurateurs," said IH&RA CEO Michael Nowlis. "As such, it helps to highlight the important career opportunities offered by the hospitality industry worldwide."

29-year-old Claire Menck is responsible for the daily operation of a full-service, fine dining restaurant, patio and lounge as well as the hotel's high volume banqueting department. In addition, she plans the marketing strategy for the restaurant and lounge, manages 35-45 staff members and coordinates off-site events.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, and after a period spent studying in Germany, Claire went on to study at the New England Culinary Institute before launching her career in the restaurant industry. Winner of the James Beard Student Scholar Award in 1997, Claire held management positions at several restaurant establishments in the United States before joining the Radisson Hotel Mayfair in June this year.

« Since Claire joined our team, we have seen revenues in the restaurant grow by over $20,000, service improve by 2.0 points on our guest service scores, and our beverage costs reduced by 2%, » said general manager Jay D. Freeman. « These are remarkable achievements, but even more remarkable when you consider the short time Claire has been with us. »

Claire describes « the challenge » as the most important aspect of her job. « I enjoy going into a work environment that requires fixing, » she said. « Getting involved on the frontline of my operation allows me to create strong relationships with guests and co-workers, and a strong family environment where people feel a sense of ownership. »

28-year-old Sri Lankan Nishan Silva studied at the International Hotel Management Institute in Lucerne, Switzerland, with training periods at the Basel Hilton and the Hotel Royal, Lucerne. With a marketing qualification from the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing under his belt, he joined the Hilton Colombo in 1994 as a management trainee in food & beverage.

After an intensive 18-month management programme and positions in several of the hotel's food outlets, he was chosen to head the team charged with opening the prestigious Emperor's Wok restaurant, a $620,000 project specialising in Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine. Nishan followed special training courses at the Beijing Hilton and in Hong Kong to learn the operation of a fine dining Chinese restaurant. He is charged with finding creative ideas to reach new market segments and generate repeat business through constant innovation. « I am a great believer that only quality products will prevail, and am eager to prove this at the Emperor's Wok, » said Nishin.

According to Michael Nigitsch, general manager and divisional director of Hilton in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, « I have worked in the hospitality industry for over twenty years, and have come across very few professionals who display such a high level of dedication, commitment and drive to achieve their objectives. Nishan is a role model for young restaurateurs, and has the right spirit for this challenging division of our industry. »

Editor's note: The International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA)is a global network representing over 750,000 hospitality operators, associations and suppliers in more than 150 countries. Its mission is to protect, promote and inform the hospitality industry, which it estimates to comprise over 300,000 hotels and 8 million restaurants world-wide, employ 60 million people and contribute US$950 billion to the global economy.

Caroline Harvey-Gutierrez
Director, Media Relations
+33 1 44899400