The winning duo - food and beverage service student Colleen McCann and professional cookery student Lauren Beavers - were announced winners of the competition, now in its 25th year, at a ceremony at The Dorchester hotel in London last night.
Eight teams from South West College, University College Birmingham, South Downs College, University of Derby, City of Glasgow College, Liverpool Community College, Blackpool and the Fylde College and the College of West Anglia, Kings Lynn, were given a number of tasks over the four days of the Grand Final last month, including cooking for 100 guests at London's O2 Arena and preparing and serving a meal for chef Alan Murchison's fine-dining challenge.
Chairman of judges, chef James Tanner, said: “The students are really thrown in at the deep end throughout the competition, faced with foreign products in an unfamiliar and often daunting environment. It takes a lot of guts to overcome the pressures, rise above them and make the most of the Grand Final. South West College grasped the opportunity with both hands; they kept their cool throughout with a consistent performance, and really deserve huge congratulations.”
McCann and Beavers now join an illustrious list of Nestle Toque d'Or alumni, which includes Anton Mosimann. The chef will offer personalised work placement experience to the team as part of their prize.
McCann said she was 'delighted' her team won. “We couldn’t believe it when we made it through to the finals, and winning the overall competition is just surreal – we simply can’t believe it.
“We felt very far from home throughout the competition, but were determined to represent our college the very best we could. We worked hard as individuals and as a team and couldn’t be more proud to be the first team to lift the trophy as representatives of colleges in Ireland.
“We are now looking forward to spending some amazing time working with Anton Mosimann – it’s literally a dream come true.”
Neil Stephens, managing director of Nestle Professional, said this year's competition was the most challenging and varied yet.
"Every year, the bar is raised higher and every year, the students rise to the challenge," he said. "What they achieve over the course of the competition is truly inspirational. I take my hat off to them and wish them every success in their future careers - judging by their collective performance in this year’s competition, they’re destined for great things.”