Darren Neilan, a son of well-known Roscommon town chef Paddy Neilan, was recently named as an Acorn Award winner in England which recognised 30 of the best emerging talents in the catering industry. 30-year-old Darren is restaurant manager at One-O-One, the restaurant in the Sheraton Park Tower in London. A son of Paddy and Bernadette Neilan from Ballyleague, he attended secondary school in St. Mel’s in Longford and later went to catering college in Portrush, Co. Antrim. In joining the catering trade, he was following in the footsteps of his father Paddy who was head chef in the Royal Hotel in Roscommon for ten years. After college he moved to England and began working at the Dining Room in Reigate from 1999 to 2002, rising from waiter to assistant manager. He then moved on to One-O-One as chef de rang, progressing to head waiter and junior assistant manager in just three months. After two years in this position he was promoted to assistant restaurant manager, becoming restaurant manager the following year, managing a team of 17 staff and overseeing a 70-cover operation. He was named as one of the 30 rising stars in the industry because he succeeded in creating a motivated and dedicated team and dramatically reduced staff turnover, while also improving guest satisfaction and profitability. The award recognised his leadership qualities and under his guidance more than half of the team in the restaurant have progressed internally. A member of the Academy of Food and Wine Service, he also sits on its recently launched food service committee. The 30 award winners were selected from hotels across Britain and were the subject of a feature in the Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine.