Veronica Palacios, a barista for Sodexo at the An Post staff restaurant at the GPO in Dublin, has been crowned the 2017 UK and Ireland Barista of the Year at the Sodexo Salon Culinaire in Ascot Racecourse.
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Veronica, who came to Ireland from Venezuela four years ago, joined Sodexo last year with no formal training in coffee but with plenty of talent. Encouraged by David Byrne, the group site manager at An Post, she undertook an intensive barista training course organised by the company in June 2017. Veronica went on to win the Irish heat of the Barista of the Year competition at the end of August and then travelled to the Salon Culinaire at Ascot to take part in the UK and Ireland Final against nine other competitors from England, Scotland and Wales.
It was a three-part live competition in front of a crowd of hundreds attending the Salon and under the watchful eyes of the two judges, each finalist had first to serve drinks to the Salon attendees for 30 minutes. It was followed by a taste test and then the making and presentation of two espressos, two cappuccinos and two signature drinks. Veronica won both the espresso and signature drink categories, wowing the judges with her signature coffee creation inspired by a Venezuelan drink that included fresh coconut, coconut water, sugar and ice.
Veronica said, “I just can’t believe that I’ve won! I want to thank David Byrne and my colleagues in Sodexo for all their help and support. The barista training course with UCC Coffee was excellent and I learned so much from it. Although I was very nervous about the Final at first, I managed not to be overwhelmed by the crowds and really enjoyed the whole experience.
Veronica was presented with a top of the line Italian coffee making machine for her own home, the opportunity to complete an advanced Barista Diploma along with shopping vouchers and other goodies.
Margot Slattery, country president, Sodexo Ireland, said. “Congratulations to Veronica on her wonderful win and congratulations also to her manager David Byrne for his talent spotting and support. As people are at the core of what we do, employee engagement and personal development is central to our business and it’s great to see such a positive example of it in action.”
Sodexo Ireland delivers services that improve the quality of life to clients in business and industry, education, financial services, government services and healthcare. It employs approximately 3,700 people in 230 locations across Ireland.
© 2017 FRANCE IRELAND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE