A DUNFERMLINE woman has proven she really is number one after being named Restaurant Manager of the Year at a ceremony in London.
Emma Lonie, 41, has worked at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh for 14 years and was recently honored at the Hotel Catey Awards.
She’s in charge of reception at Michelin-starred restaurant Number One on Princes Street in the capital – and that’s exactly where she wants to be.
Emma said: “I love my job. I’ve found a passion for hospitality, food, wine, travel and people, so I’m one of those lucky people who really love what they do. .
“You work with the best Scotland has to offer, the produce, our chefs and Balmoral itself is a historic place.
“Our goal is to tell the story of our products and our suppliers through our seven-course menu and ensure that our customers enjoy the full dining experience.
“There’s no downside to that.”
She continued: “It’s different every day, you meet different people and you do different things.
“Has it been a challenge in the last 18 months? Certainly.
“It’s been a tough year and we’ve had to take a break at times, but it sets you up to come back and give people the opportunity to enjoy a great dinner again.”
This dedication to providing guests with a memorable dining experience led her to be put forward for the award.
Emma said: “Just being nominated was a privilege, but I made it to the final three and went to the awards ceremony in London.
“Winning was really exciting, I’m very proud.”
Emma grew up in Baldridgeburn and attended McLean Primary and Queen Anne High before earning an honors degree in nutrition from Queen Margaret University.
She worked in bars and restaurants to fund her studies and for years traveling with her twin sister, Susan.
Emma had a short stint in Scotland working as a dietician, but after embarking on another adventure in Australia and New Zealand, it was easier to find work in the hospitality industry.
She admitted, “I fell in love with it and thought, ‘Why don’t I do this full time?'”
She started working at Number One Balmoral in 2007 and took on a number of roles, including sommelier and assistant manager, before becoming restaurant manager in January 2019.
Emma explained: “Day-to-day, I oversee the restaurant with the head chef, Mathew Sherry, greet and greet guests, look after the team and provide what we consider to be the dining experience. ultimate in a five-star hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant.
“I’m part of the planning and the menu and I have to deliver that every night. It’s a real buzz.”
The great and the good have stayed at Balmoral, from film and sports stars to politicians and royalty, while JK Rowling finished writing the latest Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, at the hotel in 2007 and now has a suite named after her.
Emma was too low-key to name the celebrities she met in her work but said everyone was treated the same.
“We’ve been lucky enough to have famous faces come to dine here, but to me it doesn’t matter whether you’re staying in the royal suite or saving up all year to treat your boyfriend to his first Michelin the experience of a starred restaurant, you just want them to enjoy it.”
Although she loves her job, travel is always on the agenda with the ambition to visit South Africa and South America with her partner, Jonathan Hemy, who also works at Balmoral.
Passionate about rugby, they took part in the Hong Kong sevens tournament and are also planning a trip to see a Scottish international player.
Emma explained: “My nephew, Dougie Fife, plays professional rugby in Boston, so we’re hoping to go when the commute is a little easier.
“He was playing for Edinburgh but he’s now at the New England Freejacks so we’re all looking forward to going over there and seeing him.”