The Hero Award Header Graphic Asahi

To mark what has been a truly testing 12 months, this year MCA is introducing a new, unique category at the Retailers’ Retailer Awards, which recognises the unsung heroes of the hospitality sector.

The topical award will shine a light on members of the senior management team who have steered their businesses through the extreme operating challenges of Covid-19.

Nominated by close colleagues, the nominees will be profiled in MCA, with the winner chosen by an editorial panel and announced live on the awards broadcast on March 11.

The Hero award is sponsored by Asahi. The five nominations are detailed below. 


Adelle Taylor, operations director at Cote Restaurants

Nominated by Cote executive chair Jane Holbrook:

“Adelle, our ops director for front of house has been a beacon of light and inspiration through this pandemic, managing through her own illness, bringing humour to lighten the load for others, and leading the team through difficult times. She’s done this with huge grace, good humour and steely determination to do the right thing for everyone. On top of this she has been instrumental in the set up and huge success of Cote At Home, which has brought hope, a sense of belonging for the team and kept many people employed. I love her… a true hero.” 


Rob Mitchell, executive chef at Drake & Morgan

Nominated by CEO Jillian Maclean:

“Rob has been with me since I started the business and has grown the business from one site to 23 businesses. He has been integral to the growth of the businesses and has led and supported me and the team through the most challenging time in my lifetime in this sector. He’s a winner in my eyes and our teams.” 


Rory Marthinusen, COO at Giggling Squid

Nominated by head of PR & Marketing Hannah Johnson:

“The calmest of heads in the choppiest of seas. From lockdown 1.0 onwards Rory has led the team to deliver the right decisions, at the right time. He has united the company in the most challenging of times, always keeping our people first in every decision. He has worked tirelessly to ensure we haven’t dropped the many spinning plates throughout this pandemic and he well and truly deserves the HERO award. Not only has our business grown exponentially but our culture and team spirit are much stronger and that’s because of him.” 


Vic Stewart, CFO, The Alchemist

Nominated by CEO Simon Potts: 

“In a year when the unsung heroes of finance have been worth their very weight in gold, I would like to nominate Vic. Blending commerciality with cost discipline and working every conceivable lever to keep cash close - without hurting supplier or creditor chain. Optimistic, opportunistic and tireless in the task of managing operational need with investor and bank expectation - I believe she is second to none. A well-known and well-liked figure in the hospitality finance community, she has kept cheery communication going across the sector, as well as continued to develop her team.


Suzanne Baker, commercial and property director, Stonegate

Nominated by Maureen Heffernan MD of Leisure PR: 

“Throughout the pandemic Suzanne has orchestrated and managed the challenges presented with operating a huge and diverse supply chain as well as dealing with the increased challenges of an enhanced estate with Stonegate purchasing EI Group in March, 2 weeks prior to the first lock-down. Unflappable, calm and personable throughout Suzanne epitomises professionalism behind the scenes of the biggest pub company in the UK.” 

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