Nestle Toque d'Or takes on new format for 2012

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Chef, Nestlé toque d'or

The Toque d'Or, now in its 24th year has changed format this year to make it more focused and easier to enter
The Toque d'Or, now in its 24th year has changed format this year to make it more focused and easier to enter
Nestle Toque d'Or, the culinary competition for catering colleges, has taken on a new format for 2012, doing away with the first round paper entries and putting more emphasis on exposing students to 'real life' hospitality scenarios.

The competition, which next year will celebrate its silver jubilee, is currently holding its first heats - named Taste of Toque - at the Salon Culinaire at Hotelympia. Seveteen colleges will compete there while further heats will take place in other locations throughout the country.

This year students will be made to put their business strategy, procurement and menu-planning skills to the test alongside the more traditional cooking and service.

In the first round, teams of three - one kitchen, one front-of-house and a commis, will have to make a two-course lunch for six covers with a budget of £6 per head. The main course must not exceed 600 calories and all courses should include Nestle Professional products.

Work harder

Piers Devereaux, insight and events lead at Nestle Professional, told BigHospitality the time had come to shake up the competition and ensure everyone was getting the best out of it to help equip students with the right skills for industry.

"It's time to make it work harder for everyone," he said. "We asked students how they felt and went to employers and asked what we should do. The feedback we have been getting is fantastic, so we have made the competition more focused and easier to get involved too.

"College lecturers are so busy and so stretched, so we have had to make it easier for them to put teams forward and have their students compete.

"The Toque d'Or gives students real experience of the industry and it puts them in front of people they wouldn't be put in front of for years to come ordinarily, so it's important for colleges to get involved. It's about giving them the inspiration and the skills they need to have a successful career in the industry."

Industry involvement

The competition has widespread support from the industry - chef James Tanner, front-of-house consultant Esher Williams and Stephen Mannock of the hotel school are all involved either as judges or supporters.

Tanner, who has been involved with the competition for the last four years and is chairman of judges, said: "The future of the hospitality industry depends more than ever on the ideas, enthusiasm and passion of the next generation. Nestle Toque d'Or plays a pivotal role in engaging with catering students, whetting their appetite for the opportunities available to them and most importantly, helping them develop the plethora of skills required to succeed.

“I don’t know of any other competition that offers students this level of opportunity and exposure to the very best of our industry’s diverse experiences.”

Following the first heats at Hotelympia there will be other regional heats in Glasgow, Birmingham, Sheffield and at the Wessex Culinaire.

The top eight teams from those heats will then go through to the grand finals held between 17 and 20 May with all finalists receiving a Toque d’Or uniform, equipment for their college and a certificate.

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