Nestlé Professional® has announced the winners of the Toque d’Or® 2019 competition as University College Birmingham and apprentice Drew Dawson from 5 Star Hotel and members’ club The Ned. It is the fifth time University College Birmingham has won the college accolade since 2010, most recently picking up the title in 2017.
This year’s stars were revealed at a VIP awards lunch at the Royal Lancaster London on Friday 14th June 2019, in a ceremony hosted by Mark Durden Smith and Angellica Bell.
The winners had been left in suspense for the results following an intense four-day Grand Finals held at the beginning of May. The 12 college and apprentice Grand Finalists experienced the true breadth of the industry with challenges including:
WSET Level One training (and exam) at English vineyard Denbies, followed by wine tasting and a tour of the vineyards and wine cellars
Fast-paced shifts under the watchful eye of chef James Tanner at unique dining and drinking venue Smiths of Smithfield
Recreating and serving a three-course fine dining sustainable menu developed by Simon Hulstone at the luxurious Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel
Harvesting vegetables before creating their own sustainable vegetarian dish at Watts Farm in Dartford
Speaking about the Toque d’Or 2019 competition, Katya Simmons, Managing Director, Nestlé Professional® UK&I, said: “This is a life-changing moment for the winners. By giving them the opportunity to develop their knowledge in all aspects of the industry and work alongside high profile experts and chefs, the competition has paved the way for their careers. The winners’ creativity in their approach to the challenges really set them apart from the pack and they have set an incredibly high standard for next year’s competition.”
Yasmine Selwood from University College Birmingham said: “I’m a mother of four, and an older student and this competition has proved that I can do anything I put my mind to. There really is no limit to what you can achieve. The secret is believing in yourself and being open to new opportunities when they arise.”
Luke Haywood from University College Birmingham added, “I came into this competition slightly daunted and not knowing what to expect, but we’ve grown together as a team and developed a really close bond.
“I think competitions like this are great because the industry is always changing and Toque d’Or provides the perfect platform to get you up to speed with all the latest trends and developments in the industry.”
Apprentice winner, Drew Dawson from The Ned also spoke about his experience: “I’m absolutely over the moon! It’s an experience of a lifetime and I’m so lucky to have been given this opportunity.
“Competitions like this show just how supportive the industry is, giving young people the opportunity to do great things.
“I think the best part of the competition was meeting the farmers and really understanding the supply chain and how everything fits together.”
This year’s Toque d’Or competition focused on sustainable futures. “For us at Nestlé Professional, sustainability covers everything from food sourcing through to talent sourcing and retention”, said Katya Simmons. “Rewarding career opportunities, innovation and creativity are exciting prospects for young talent, so it’s important the industry works together to celebrate its creativity and attract fresh talent.”