A record 140 teams from 75 colleges across the UK entered this year’s competition, which celebrates top talent and youth skills in catering.
The initial paper entry round saw teams judged on answers to questions drawn from the college syllabus and the increasingly important subject of sustainability.
The regional heats will be more practical in nature – with industry experts from Craft Guild of Chefs, Loch Fyne and Ch&C sharing knowledge with the student teams before testing them on what they have learned.
Each team will be competing for one of the six places at the Grand Finals in March.
This is the second year that the Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or has run in association with the Professional Association for Catering Education (PACE) – a partnership which means the programme is directly aligned to the national curriculum.
Managing director of Nestlé Professional UK & Eire, Neil Stephens, said: “Our partnership with PACE is a winning formula, the incredible number of entries seen this year pays testament to the value that colleges now place on competing within Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or.
“We’re seeing a growing movement by employers in their awareness of the advantages of recruiting a ‘Toque’ candidate and many of our past students have gone on to work with the finest establishments in the UK, whether as a chef, or in a front of house role. Teamwork is key - hence we place so much emphasis on combining front and back of house skill sets.
“Indeed, Nestle Professional Toque D’Or enjoys a reputation for dramatically accelerating students’ career paths for those who participate, with past contestants working with the Fat Duck, Whatley Manor, Mosimanns, The Lanesborough and L’Ortolan, to name but a few.
Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or is part of Nestlé’s broader worldwide commitment to supporting youth skills, training and development.
“This year sees fresh twists and challenges that will surprise and excite competing teams. For example, we have made ‘Sustainability’ our focus for the first round of the competition, a key pillar which is increasingly embedded within catering operations, and epitomises the future of the industry.”
Full list of Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or heats teams:
Belfast Metropolitan College
Blackpool and The Fylde College
Buxton and Leek College
City of Bristol College
City College Norwich
City of Glasgow College
Coleg Llandrillo (3 teams)
Forth Valley College
Henley College Coventry (2 teams)
New College Nottingham (4 teams)
North West Regional College
Salford City College
Sheffield City College (2 teams)
Southern Regional College
Southern Regional College, Newry
South Thames College (2 teams)
University College Birmingham
University of Derby, Buxton
Westminster Kingsway College
For further information go to www.nestle-toquedor.co.uk You can also find Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or on social media either on Facebook – Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or - or on Twitter @NestleToquedor