The winners of the Toque d’Or 2019 competition have been announced as University College Birmingham and apprentice Drew Dawson from London hotel, The Ned.
The contest, organised by Nestle Professional, is billed as “one of the UK’s most influential industry competitions, bridging the gap between the theories of the classroom, work-based learning and the exciting reality of the industry” and received record levels of interest this year.
This year’s winners were revealed at a VIP awards lunch at the Royal Lancaster London on Friday 14th June 2019, in a ceremony hosted by Mark Durden Smith and Angellica Bell.
University College Birmingham is no stranger to the award having won the college accolade five times since 2010, most recently in 2017.
The challenges partaken by competitors included: WSET Level One training (and exam) at English vineyard Denbies, followed by wine tasting and a tour of the vineyards and wine cellars; fast-paced shifts under the watchful eye of chef James Tanner at unique dining and drinking venue Smiths of Smithfield; recreating and serving a three-course fine dining sustainable menu developed by Simon Hulstone at the luxurious Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel; and harvesting vegetables before creating their own sustainable vegetarian dish at Watts Farm in Dartford.
Katya Simmons, Managing Director, Nestlé Professional UK&I, claimed that the winners’ creativity in their approach to the challenges really set them apart from the pack, and that they set an incredibly high standard for next year’s competition.
Yasmine Selwood from University College Birmingham said: “I’m a mother of four, and an older student and this competition has proved that I can do anything I put my mind to. There really is no limit to what you can achieve. The secret is believing in yourself and being open to new opportunities when they arise.”
Apprentice winner, Drew Dawson said: “I’m absolutely over the moon! It’s an experience of a lifetime and I’m so lucky to have been given this opportunity.
“Competitions like this show just how supportive the industry is, giving young people the opportunity to do great things.
“I think the best part of the competition was meeting the farmers and really understanding the supply chain and how everything fits together.”
This year’s Toque d’Or competition focused on sustainable futures with Simmons claiming that for Nestle Professional sustainability covers everything from food sourcing through to talent sourcing and retention.