The Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or® isn’t just a hospitality competition. For 31 years, it’s been bridging the gap between the theories of the classroom, work-based learning and the exciting reality of the industry.
The competition recently launched its Sustainable Futures campaign. One of its key pillars is attracting and keeping talent within the food service industry and that’s why this year Toque d’Or has introduced an Apprentice Front of House category.
There are also categories for Back of House Apprentices, Front of House College Students and Back of House College Students. By taking part, students and apprentices can build skills and experience through a set of unique challenges themed around sustainability.
Working alongside industry experts, competitors will discover the breadth of opportunity the hospitality industry has to offer. A prestigious line up of judges including chef Adam Bateman, chef Ruth Hanson and Alison Taffs will be mentoring this year’s competitors.
People development consultant, coach and drinks education trainer, Alison Taffs says they are looking for competitors who are passionate about learning. “We’re looking for foodies, people who are interested in how dishes come together and commuting that with their guests."
"This is a fantastic opportunity for people who want to learn about wine, cocktails and coffee. There are so many amazing things to know about food and drink in the industry and we need people who are eager to learn about them," she says.
In addition to money can’t buy experiences, there are also an exciting range of prizes up for grabs. In 2020, The Savoy Educational Trust will again be celebrating the finalists and winners through a generous prize fund. Each of the colleges taking part in the heats will win a prize worth £250 of kitchen equipment.
The 10 finalists will each receive an additional £750 and the overall winning team will be in with a chance of securing £2,000 worth of equipment. Four individual contestants from the student and apprentice stages will also be in with a chance of winning a place on a money can’t buy coffee and food tour of Italy. There are more prizes to be announced.
We spoke to some of last year’s finalists to find out what advice they had for those taking part this year.
“Focus on the experience, not the competition,” says Yasmine, who had been a stay at home mum for 12 years before signing up for a professional cookery course at University College Birmingham in 2018, says while she was thrilled to win the prestigious title, the focus shouldn’t be on winning.
“Everyone is there because they want to be a part of this amazing experience – to learn from the best, challenge yourself and feel that sense of accomplishment when you do well. So, my advice would be, don’t put too much focus on the competition element, because it is more about shaping the future of the industry,” she adds.
Drew was working as an apprentice at 5-Star Hotel and members’ club, The Ned, when he entered the competition.“If you make it to the finals you’ve already won. It’s an experience of a lifetime and the skills you’ll pick up and hone are the most valuable thing you take away from it.”
Lily Stock, a 2019 Nestlé Professional® Toque d’Or apprentice finalist, is back this year to compete for the title. She says that she’s been able to use her experiences in the competition to develop her recipes, specifically when it comes to sustainability.
“Toque d’Or has made me think more about sustainability and I try to ensure it is part of my thought process when creating new dishes. I always think, can I make this more environmentally friendly? What ingredients can I use that can be locally grown? Talk to as many people as possible."
Yasmine said one of the most valuable parts of the experience was all the people they met, not just the experts and mentors already at the top of their game, but all the other people taking part too.
Drew agrees: “Keep in touch with the chefs you meet. They are the future generation of the industry. The competition will lead anyone involved on to doing great things,” he says.
Registration is open until 15th December 2019
Entering the Nestlé Professional® Toque d’Or® competition couldn’t be easier. It’s free to enter and participate with all expenses covered by Nestle Professional®. Whether you are a student or apprentice wanting to compete, or a lecturer or employer keen to open doors to new development opportunities, visit https://www.nestleprofessional.co.uk/jointoque
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