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Toque d'Or 2024: Nestlé Professional reveals National Heats shortlist

Blue graphic image with white text which reads 'Heats Shortlist Announced'

Nestlé Professional has announced the shortlist of college students who have made it through into the 36th Toque d’Or National Heats. Taking place at The Grand Cookery School in York on 12 and 13 March 2024, the Heats will host 48 Front of House (FOH) and Back of House (BOH) students. 

388 students from 46 colleges registered to take part in the entry stage of this year’s competition and were asked to record and upload a 30-second video to YouTube, explaining their passion for hospitality and desire to enter Toque d’Or. They were then each tasked with a sustainability-based skills challenge, set by Rob Owen, executive business development chef at Creed Foodservice, and Nestlé Professional’s coffee trainers Aaron Dunn and Jo Walsh.

BOH entrants prepared and cooked a sustainable dish of their choice using a variety of Maggi products and FOH students created a coffee drink using Nescafé Gold Blend Alta Rica, and laid up a table inspired by the same theme. 

Katya Simmons, Managing Director Nestlé Professional UK&I, said: “Now more than ever, the industry needs to come together to inspire the next generation of hospitality leaders and through our two youth programmes, Toque d’Or and the Choose Hospitality Pledge, we hope to achieve just that.

“Toque d’Or is one of my favourite events in the calendar year. It’s a good reminder of just how much future talent we have to look forward to as an industry. I’m delighted to welcome the 48 shortlisted candidates to the next stage of the competition. This year, the Heats has a fantastic judging panel comprising young industry talent like Chef Tom Booton, experts from within Nestlé Professional, and former Toque d’Or stars. Contestants are set to experience a learning opportunity of a lifetime, and I wish all of them the best of luck!”

During the Heats, BOH participants will get to learn about the importance of plant-based menus while FOH competitors will learn more about the art of customer service. The two action-packed days will comprise a mix of judges from the industry, Nestlé Professional, and former Toque d’Or competitors. 

The BOH judging panel for the Heats includes, Tom Booton, Executive Chef of The Grill by Tom Booton (At The Dorchester); John Costello, Senior Confectioner, Nestlé Professional, Paul Hawkins, Development Chef, Nestlé Professional and Emily Simkins, 2023 BOH finalist, North Hertfordshire College.

Tom Booton said: “This year’s competition is set to be one to remember with a truly impressive shortlist of candidates moving into the National Heats. It’s not just about the win though; it’s about the journey of growth, learning, and the chance to work with the best in our field. I’m eager to get going and can’t wait to be part of the action.” 

The FOH judge line-up includes Aaron Dunn and Jo Walsh, Nestlé Professional’s coffee trainers Antonia MacFarlane, 2018 FOH winner, City of Glasgow College; Sophie Taylor, 2021 FOH winner, Edinburgh College and Joshua Kerr, 2023 FOH winner, City of Glasgow College.

Woman wearing black, with her hair in a bun, smelling a glass of red wine.

 

Joining the Toque d’Or judging panel for the first time, Antonia MacFarlane, said: “After first competing in 2017 and winning in 2018, I can confidently say that the Toque d’Or experience changes the trajectory of your career. I am thrilled to be involved as a FOH judge this year; it will be fantastic to see familiar faces and relive my own time in the competition.”

21 colleges have shortlisted students for the Heats, to see which ones made it through, click here. To see the full list of shortlisted entrants for the Heats, please visit here.