Competition hots up as Toque d’Or® announces finalists for the Heats

Thirty-eight of the UK’s most promising college students and apprentices in hospitality have been shortlisted for the Heats in Nestlé Professional’s Toque d’Or®. Whittled down from more than 400 entrants from across the UK, competitors have already completed rigorous Selection and Qualification challenges. And with the shortlist announced today by Toque d’Or®’ judges, finalists are revving up for the Heats at Nestlé HQ at the end of this month.

Competition has been fierce: high-flying students from 42 catering colleges, promising professionals from large employers including Compass, and ambitious apprentices from first-class establishments like The Stavely Arms and Gilpin Hotel & Lake House. The South East and North West sent the lion’s share of students, with 12 and 10 colleges taking part respectively from these regions. And colleges with a strong track record of winners: New City London, University College Birmingham and Edinburgh College, have sent their finest to lay claim to the prestigious title.

Over the week starting 7th February, hospitality hopefuls took to the kitchens to complete Toque d’Or®’s Selection challenge. Back of house (BOH) entrants were tasked with preparing and cooking a Chicken Ballotine, and Front of House (FOH) entrants created a coffee drink and country-themed table arrangement. By the Friday, lecturers and employers had graded their cohort, submitting the top three to competition judges.

The following week, shortlisted entrants submitted an online examination on Sustainable Diets and 30-second video on their passion for hospitality. And after a great deal of deliberation, Toque d’Or® judges have selected from these the 38 finalists that will compete in the Heats taking place at Nestlé HQ between 28th March and 1st April.

Toque d’Or® 2021 winners Kenny Markham and Sophie Taylor will be helping award-winning chef and Toque d’Or judge, Louisa Ellis and well-respected sommelier and wine expert, Raul Diaz judge the Heats.  Toque d’Or® continues to work with previous winners offering ongoing experiences along with the opportunity to develop new skills.

Competitors will also receive a masterclass from Louisa Ellis, where she’ll demonstrate a dish, which they’ll replicate, serving tables of guests across the week.   And with just a month to go before finalists are announced for the Grand Finals (4th April), the competition is starting to hot up, fast.

Katya Simmons, managing director Nestlé Professional UK&I said:

“The response we’ve received for this year’s Toque d’Or® has been outstanding. This year, we adapted the competition so that more budding hospitality stars could take part. And we’ve already been blown away by the calibre of students and apprentices put forward by college lecturers and employers.

The thirty-eight shortlisted finalists were particularly impressive during the first two phases. And we’re looking forward to meeting them in person here at Nestlé HQ where we can try their local and seasonally focused creations. This is where they really get the chance to show us what they’re made of!

Once the competition has started, it tends to gather pace fast, creating a huge sense of excitement and anticipation – not just for entrants, but also for Toque d’Or® judges and the team here at Nestlé Professional. With only a month to go before the Grand Finals, this is a critical time for the competition. We wish the Heats finalists the very best of luck. And we hope that those that didn’t make it enjoyed the experience and will join us again for next year’s Toque d’Or®.”

For more about the competition training, format and timeline, go to www.nestleprofessional.co.uk/toque-dor