The competition, designed to support young people into the hospitality industry, saw finalists from six teams - University College Birmingham, Blackpool and The Fylde College, Doncaster College, City of Glasgow College, Sheffield City College and Westminster Kingsway College - attend the grand final with judges and competition supporters at The Dorchester in London yesterday (21 April).
Following four days of challenges in which finalists attended workshops and carried out a range of tasks to test their skills - from delivering a gala dinner, to running street food stalls - judges, led by chef James Tanner, decided on their winner.
The team of back and front-of-house students from Westminster Kingsway College - a third time winner of the competition - wins the coveted Toque d'Or trophy, plus a range of experiences to help enhance their CVs - from work experience with Henri Brossi at The Dorchester and attending a master-class at Billingsgate to the chance to serve a three-course lunch for 1,000 guests at Sandhurst.
Rebecca Heath, Westminster Kingsway College's front-of-house representative said: “This experience will stay with us forever; everything we have learned, everything we got to try and the ways in which we developed throughout the competitions, both as a team and individuals – it’s unforgettable.
“We are honoured to have been selected to compete in Toque d’Or against some truly incredible rival teams and to have won has really left us speechless with emotion. It is the perfect end to all our college careers, and the most amazing start to our careers in hospitality”
More than 120 teams at catering colleges around the UK entered the competition. Six regional heats were then held before the six final teams were chosen.
Career in hospitality
Judges were tasked with assessing the teams, not only on their practical and theoretical knowledge and skill, but also on their ability to think on their feet, back each other up as a team and improvise solutions when necessary.
Tanner said: “It takes a special kind of person to commit to a career in hospitality – it can be tough at times and to succeed, future chefs and managers must be able to work under pressure yet still produce a smile at the end of their shift.
“These skills are as important as being passionate about cooking and service and reflect the best of the best delivering the whole package. Every team performed incredibly – you’d never have known that some were just 18 or only had one or two years of experience under their belts – but in the end Westminster Kingsway proved they really had what it takes to go the whole way. We are all sure that they can look forward to very bright futures.”
Delivering a speech at the awards, Nestlé Professional managing Director, George Vezza, described the finalist teams as ‘inspirational’, and said that “if this is the future of our industry – then we are in good hands”.
Now in its 27th year, the Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or, draws support from across the industry with this year seeing the arrival of new partners Loch Fyne Seafood and Grill, The Elephant, Arbutus, Firmdale Hotels and Corbin and King.
Watch this video from the Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or 2015 Grand Finals