Ronan toasts TV success

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A RENOWNED Scarborough wine connoisseur has toasted the success of a hit television programme after helping to unearth a new restaurant star.

Ronan Sayburn, who was born in Scarborough, recently graced the nation’s screens on the BBC Two show Michel Roux’s Service.

The programme aimed to transform eight teenagers from inexperienced waiters into pillars in front-of-house service at one of his Michelin-starred restaurants.

Mr Sayburn, 41, was integral in their teaching, passing on his experience as a world-famous Sommelier - also known as a wine steward - at the Hotel du Vin group which featured in the show.

The former Raincliffe School and Scarborough Technology College pupil, who is one of only 180 Master Sommeliers in the world, took the trainees on a four day course to Reims, in France’s Champagne region, to teach them about understanding the intricacies of good wine.

The ex-Gordon Ramsey Executive Head Sommelier, also created wine lists and trained wine service teams for restaurants in Dubai, Tokyo and New York, including Claridge’s, the Connaught, and the Savoy, but said teaching the new recruits had been a somewhat difficult but nevertheless enjoyable experience.

He said the programme had provided the youngsters with invaluable experience from someone of Mr Roux’s notable stature, which would only benefit them in the future.

He added: “It was quite different for me because I’m always used to teaching people that have previous knowledge and experience of the industry.

“However, when we took them on the trip to France that was fantastic for their development because we had the opportunity to teach them an awful lot about wine and good service.

“It was good fun and I enjoyed the challenge of that because once they saw the area they really got into what we were showing them.”

The show’s eventual six-month Sommelier scholarship winner was Danielle Meenagh, 19, who has been working with the Hotel du Vin group based in Winchester, Hampshire, as part of her training.

Mr Sayburn said he was full of praise for her success and open to the idea of repeating the search for new recruits in the future.

He added: “She had really good customer skills and such enthusiasm and I liked her because of that.

“Danielle didn’t have an awful lot of knowledge but she was very keen and will be able to build on everything in the future because of that.

“I was worried about her leaving her friends to work two shifts a day but she’s been doing a great job.”

The programme also awarded scholarships to 21-year-old Ashley Flay and James Marvin, 24.