Some of the industry’s biggest names were out in force today to honour the winners of Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or® at a glittering awards lunch. For the past 28 years, the iconic student competition has celebrated the industry’s rising stars and trail-blazed the skills agenda.
Representing the crème de la crème of the next generation of hospitality stars, the winning team from University College Birmingham, made up of Megan Lyke, Katie Lewis and Jack Gameson, today wrote their own history in one of the most fiercely contested years of the competition. They now join an illustrious list of Toque d’Or® alumni including the likes of legendary chef and restaurateur, Anton Mosimann.
Amongst the guests at the highly emotive awards luncheon were Simon Hulstone, Chef Patron of The Elephant Restaurant in Devon, James Tanner, Restaurateur and TV Personality, and Toque d’Or® alumni Graham Hornigold, who is currently Executive Pastry Chef for the Michelin-starred Hakkasan Group.
Speaking after the event, James Tanner, Chairman of Judges, highlighted the importance of the competition and the role it plays in nurturing skills and inspiring talented youngsters:
“This year, I have been completely bowled over by the passion, commitment and sheer talent that has shone through at every stage of the competition. It has been truly awe-inspiring. We may be in the midst of a talent crisis, but the level of passion and commitment demonstrated by these youngsters has been unquestionable.”
For Megan Lyke, a member of the winning team from University College Birmingham, the whole Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or® experience has been truly inspirational:
“Toque is different to every other competition. It is life changing, we know people will look at us differently. It has given us a stepping stone to our future with contacts, connections and experience.”
The winning team will now receive a ‘once in a lifetime’ prize, including a range of money-can’t-buy experiences to further enhance their CV’s and increase their employability, delivered over the course of the coming year.
Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or® Apprentice competition marks a new era for hospitality
In a surprise twist, this year, for the very first time, Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or® is breaking new ground with the unveiling of a new competition: Toque d’Or® Apprentice.
Nestlé Professional® recognises the power of harnessing apprenticeships, and has developed the dedicated programme to accompany the successful student competition to showcase exceptional talent within the industry. The ground-breaking new initiative is supported by key partners including HIT Training and People First as well as industry figures such as Simon Hulstone and James Hill, the former Toque d’Or winner who now runs successful hospitality businesses. This year, apprentices from a range of industries took part; Hotel du Vin, Holiday Inn, Royal Garden Hotel, Mansion House, Sandhurst, Grosvenor Hotel and Eton.
The competition provides apprentices with a plethora of inspirational learning opportunities and ‘money can’t buy’ experiences that define the Toque d’Or® brand.
George Vezza, Managing Director of Nestlé Professional® commented:
“After 28 years, Toque d’Or® has evolved to become one of the most iconic competitions in the industry – a brand associated with promoting talent, raising aspirations and delivering opportunity, and one that has helped launched the careers of thousands of chefs and managers around the world.
“In an exciting move, and in light of the skills shortage, the development of the apprentice competition heralds a new era – recognising the growing importance of vocational training in hospitality. After all, the apprentices coming up through the competition will go on to be the decision-makers of tomorrow.”
The inaugural winner of the 2016 competition is Luka Seddon, Apprentice Commis Chef (from CH&Co.), who faced strong competition in a gruelling two-day event at Hospitality House in London in May. Contestants faced a series of challenges including a culinary invention test, a ‘Question of Catering’ challenge, and a Dragons’ Den style presentation, designed to test their knowledge, creativity, communication and entrepreneurial skills across a host of different sectors.
Commenting on her win, Luka Seddon said: “This is such an unexpected honour and I am so proud of myself and my company for giving me this opportunity. I would encourage any apprentice to take part in toque D’Or to help them build confidence and success.”