Pictured L-R: Back of House Student Winner - Samantha Watkins, Loughborough College | Back of House Apprentice Winner - James Shuttleworth, The Tower Hotel | Front of House Student Winner - Tara Humphrey, City of Glasgow College
Nestlé Professional announces this year’s Toque d’Or competition three winners after the Grand Finals celebration. Well-known industry experts such as Louisa Ellis, MasterChef: The Professionals winner, and Raul Diaz, educator and well-respected sommelier and wine expert, were part of the jury who selected the winners.
The Grand Finals celebration, with the theme Balanced Diets and Sustainable Futures, consisted of a week of challenges where the nine finalists of this years’ competition had to demonstrate their talent.
Each day offered a new challenge, including a visit to Loddington Farm where finalists learned about regenerative agriculture including activities like, asparagus cutting, tasting and selecting the farm’s “Owlet” fruit juices that were showcased in the Fine Dining Challenge. Finalists also tasted and selected edible flowers from Loddington’s partners, Blooming Green that were used in the menu and on tables at the Fine Dining Challenge. This was followed by a visit to Bolney Vineyard for a tour of the winery and tasting of wines led by Judge Raul Diaz. A day at Dingley Dell Pork Farm was also a highlight that included a session on the importance of animal welfare, conservation of wildlife and bee pollination.
The Fine Dining Challenge was the final task for the finalists who used ingredients from Loddington, Bolney Wine and Dingley Dell to deliver a three course fine dining menu to 50 VIP guests including the Toque d’Or judges. This final challenge gave competitors the opportunity to put into practice the knowledge and skills they learnt during the week.
From the nine finalists, the three winners were chosen. Tara, James Shuttleworth and Sam Watkins will be taken to attend the Worldchefs Congress & Expo 2022 in Abu Dhabi as well as a gastronomic weekend in Dubai. The Savoy Educational Trust will also be providing £1,000 for each of the colleges taking part in the Grand Finals and extra £2,500 for the winning colleges to be used to purchase equipment from Russums.
This year, the Toque d’Or competition saw over 400 Back Of House and Front Of House superstars registered to compete, representing 50 colleges and businesses from across the UK.
Back of House Student winner Samantha Watkins, Loughborough College, commented: “I am so happy to have won, I have made so many good friends during the Toque d’Or 2022 competition and learnt so many new skills and experiences. I would like to travel the world learning more about different food cultures starting with the winner’s trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.”
Back of House Apprentice winner James Shuttleworth, The Tower Hotel, commented: “Toque d’Or 2022 has been a fantastic experience for me. Taking part has been a real confidence boost for me and I would like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout the competition.”
Front of House Student winner Tara Humphrey, City of Glasgow College, commented: “I am incredibly proud of what I have achieved, it was a tough competition against two incredible finalists, but we worked well as a team and I have made friends for life. The competition has been a huge learning experience and the Finals Week enabled us to learn so many new processes and to see the bigger picture from farm to fork which is essential for front of house.”
Katya Simmons, Managing Director of Nestlé Professional UK&I, says, “What a brilliant competition and congratulations to all the finalists that took part. The standard was incredibly high, and we are so proud to support the young talent within the hospitality industry, equipping them with the experience and skills to succeed in their careers. This year’s theme – Balanced Diets and Sustainable Futures – was important for finalists, giving them insights on new trends and increasing their knowledge on sustainability.
“We would also like to give a big thank you to our fantastic panel of judges. As well as giving our finalists solid skills based on real-world experience, they’ve served as an inspiration to competitors throughout.”
The awards presentation took place on 29 April at Soho House, Dean Street and the competition will be presented in a series of 4 short series on Toque d’Or You Tube launching on Friday 10th June.
Find out more about Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or 2022.