2015 HAS seen an unprecedented first for Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or with Westminster Kingsway College taking home the highly coveted Toque d’Or Trophy for a third time.
The team of three front and back of house students took their prize - and walked into a place in ‘Toque d’Or’ history – at an emotionally charged Awards Dinner at the Dorchester Hotel, where 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”.
The 2015 Toque d’Or journey and Grand Finals challenge was witnessed by many of the most respected names in hospitality who turned out en masse for this annual celebration of young talent and achievement.
“Incredible, life-changing, awe-inspiring…” were just some of the words the finalist teams (comprising of back and front of house students), used to describe their experience, which saw them beat off five other colleges (chosen from a record number of 120-plus team entries in 2015), and representing the crème de la crème of the next generation of hospitality stars.
“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,” said Rebecca Heath, who was Westminster Kingsway’s front-of-house representative.
“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”
Following a paper entry and six regional Heats, Westminster Kingsway College competed under the watchful eye of Vince Cottam – Chef Lecturer at Westminster Kingsway - in a series of Finals’ challenges, which tested the mettle of each individual, putting them through their paces in a unique learning and development programme for which Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or has become renowned.
The 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.
In the end the judging panel – which included celebrity chef and head of Judges James Tanner and sustainability champion Footprint who led the students through a series of sustainability challenges – picked Westminster Kingsway for their “overall professionalism, wonderful flexibility, highly developed skillsets and their clear passion for the industry”.
Charles Miers, managing director of Footprint added: “Sustainability goes far beyond sourcing local foods or seasonal produce; it spans finance, business practice and social initiatives that benefit the wider community as well as drive the industry forward.
“To ensure that the sector has a future, and can operate sustainably it is imperative that the issues are ingrained into the next generation of hospitality leaders, that it is second nature to them.
“We saw evidence in this year’s Toque d’Or Competition – which has always been about delivering an experience that went beyond testing cooking ability but also teaches the students important industry lessons – that young people have a knowledge, and passion, for sustainable practice. We hope to see this continue as these future stars take their next steps on what is likely to be a stellar career path, and make sustainability in the hospitality sector common practice.”
The team from Westminster Kingsway College will all receive a ‘money can’t buy’ prize which will include a range of experiences that will further enhance their CV’s, delivered over the coming year. The team will be cooking, and be presented to guests, at the upcoming Footprint Awards, enjoy works experience at the Dorchester under Henri Brossi, share in a master-class at Billingsgate as well as cook and serve for the renowned Sovereigns Parade 3 course lunch for 1,000 guests at Sandhurst. That’s in addition to joining Nestlé Professional as guests in its VIP box at the 02 and enjoying a celebratory dinner hosted by Anton Mosimann at the world-renowned, Mosimanns of Belgravia.
Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or awards prizes at all stage of the competition from a fund of over £25,000 per year supported by long-standing partners, The Savoy Educational Trust. Prizes from the Fund are presented to all teams who reach the Regional Heats and Grand Finals (the winning team’s prize is doubled), to purchase equipment in order to benefit their students.
Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or is an annual initiative to support young people into the Hospitality Industry and drive the development of skills within the sector through learning and training schemes that add genuine value to those participating. It is now in its 27th year and is the leading student catering competition of its kind, offering a balanced experience for all competitors across back and front of house.