A month after naming the winners of Toque d’Or® 2022, Nestlé Professional whisked them away last weekend for a once-in-a-lifetime gastronomic tour around the Persian Gulf. Visiting celebrated hotspots in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, winners enjoyed a packed schedule of activities, which included an Arabic BBQ under the stars in the Lahbab desert, fine dining in Dubai’s opulent L’Olivo at Al Mahara (in the opulent 7-star hotel Burj Al Arab), and also attending the Worldchefs Congress sponsored by Nestlé Professional.
The trip is a welcome reward to Samantha Watkins, Loughborough College (BOH Student), James Shuttleworth, The Tower Hotel (BOH Apprentice) and Tara Humphrey, City of Glasgow College (FOH Student), who’ve poured their hearts and souls into Toque d’Or® 2022 since its start in early February. Culminating with a week-long Grand Finals at the end of April, competitors studied regenerative agriculture, animal welfare, wildlife conservation and bee pollination as part of the competition’s ‘Balanced Diets and Sustainable Futures’ theme. And the winners excelled at bringing this learning – and sustainable ingredients sourced during supplier visits – to the table in the final task: a VIP three-course Fine Dining Challenge.
The winners had the chance to enjoy being on the other side of hospitality, being served Thai specialities in Thiptara, looking out over Downtown Dubai’s iconic water fountains, Peruvian dishes overlooking Dubai’s night skyline in Coya, and barbecued delicacies under beachside gazebos in Abu Dhabi’s Al QASR.
At the Worldchefs Congress, they watched the final 70 competitors battle it in the Global Chef’s Challenge. They also dined at the GARDEN GOURMET booth with the Nestlé Professional team and heard Nestlé Professional Global Head of Food, Cornel Krummenacher, explain how plant-based foods reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Alongside, the three winners gathered inspiration from Persian herbs and spices in Dubai’s Spice Souk and enjoyed cultural and tourist attractions including a trip to Emirates Palace, a camel caravan ride, boat trip, and fun parks.
Samantha Watkins, Back of House Student Winner says: “The Toque d’Or Winners Trip has been an incredible experience and I am so grateful to have been on such a trip! The whole trip has been insane, and I can’t pick a favourite moment, it was all fantastic. I really enjoyed the different food cuisines we experienced throughout the week, and it has given me a lot of inspiration for my future dishes. It was a busy week full of exciting activities but also a time to relax and treat ourselves after a busy time in hospitality, although I did miss the service buzz. The trip went so quick and now seems like a dream.”
James Shuttleworth, Back of House Apprentice Winner says: “Dubai to Abu Dhabi what a journey, an adventure I certainly will not forget. A completely different world, it’s certainly a place that didn’t disappoint. The views were incredible even among the hustle and bustle. Living the high life throughout our trip with the opportunity to explore and have a taster of the different cuisines on offer. To top it all off we ended our trip with a visit to the World Chefs Congress, a real eye-opener.”
Tara Humphrey, Front of House Student Winner says: “The winner’s trip was completely unforgettable. I never expected to do the activities that we did, to eat at the places and everything else in between, we were completely spoiled. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I feel so honoured to have experienced it. A huge thank you to Nestlé Professional and Toque d’Or for such a wonderful trip, it has been incredible”.
Katya Simmons, Managing Director of Nestlé Professional UK&I, says:
“All of our entrants put their hearts and souls into Toque d’Or® – this comes through in the quality of their dishes and their service. The winners really shone during the final challenge, so it’s a real pleasure to reward them with such a fabulous trip.
After months of hard work and dedication, we thought it would be good for them to experience first-hand some of the world’s finest food and hospitality. And for extra inspiration, to watch the world’s top chefs compete in the prestigious Worldchefs Congress. Who knows, perhaps we’ll get to see them compete there on the world stage one day!”
For more information on Nestlé Toque d’Or® 2022, please click here.