One-hundred and fifty-six teams from 68 colleges have entered the competition - which aims to support young people beginning careers in the hospitality industry.
With almost half of hospitality businesses struggling to fill chef vacancies, Nestlé said the competition came at a time when nurturing upcoming talent was more important than ever.
“The hospitality industry needs young people; they are the lifeblood of the Industry," said George Vezza, managing director at Nestlé Professional.
"This is why competitions like Toque d’Or are so important in nurturing talent for the future.
“More students than ever are recognising the opportunities Toque d’Or opens up for them and, based on the standard of entries we’ve received, this year’s judges will certainly have their work cut out."
The competition – now in its 28th year – will see students experience a range of ‘real-life’ hospitality scenarios based around the theme of nutrition, health and wellness.
Thirty-six teams will be selected to compete in six regional heats between 2-11 February where they will receive masterclasses from front and back-of-house experts.
Six winning teams will then proceed to the Grand Finals on 17-20 March to face challenges across a wide range of industry disciplines.
“We’re particularly excited about the theme of this year’s competition, as nutrition, health and wellness is such a key topic in the hospitality industry," said Vezza.
"As a company, it’s something we take very seriously and we’re proud that this year’s contestants will gain valuable knowledge in this area as they embark on their careers.”
Previous Toque d'Or entrants include Jamie Oliver and Anton Mosimann.
A final awards ceremony for the 2016 competition will be held in April.