The Queenstown Hilton has been crowned with both the Cocktail and Wine Cup in the 2016 Food and Beverage Masters.

Hosted in Sydney for the first time, the Hilton event is a lively competition to test the skills of the worldwide culinary and drink crew in the spirit of cultivating talent. The talent was truly apparent this year, with two of the top tier beverage heroes hailing from Queenstown, Lloyd Grey and Richard King.

Food and Beverage supervisor Grey packed up from his hometown in Swindon, England at 18 to jet set about the globe. He concocted cocktails and served spirits in restaurants, bars, hotels and aboard cruise ships, before settling down south two years ago and taking up his position at the Hilton. The F&B Masters saw Grey showcasing his talent in challenges such as the Black Box, where contestants were presented a stash of ingredients from which they had to choose three and create a cocktail in five minutes flat, and with his winning creation, the Melon Crush Colada, a reinvention of the infamous Pina Colada, with watermelon, citrus and cream.

King’s interest in wine first came about as a result of his partiality to the drink. In his late teens King starting questioning just what went into alcohol, prompting him to move into the wine sector at the Hilton. At the F&B Masters the 23-year-old’s refined palate was evident as he won out in the written theory exam and three round blind tasting of champagnes, whites and reds.

The F&B Masters is an event where the global Hilton Hotel team increase customer satisfaction through experimentation and experience, give staff training in both practical and theoretical aspects of the job, giving their emerging personnel the chance to showcase their talent to a panel of industry experts.