Nestlé Professional Toque d'Or Grand Final: day 1

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th March 2015
It's the first day of the Nestlé Professional Toque d'Or final, and the students were treated to a cooking masterclass, a front-of-house talk, mixology class and wine tasting. sh 2The students in the final come from Westminster Kingsway College, University College of Birmingham, Sheffield City College, City of Glasgow College, Doncaster College and Blackpool and Fylde College. The day kicked off with a masterclass from Simon Hulstone, chef proprietor of The Elephant Restaurant. Simon's class showed the students what they would need to make for the black tie dinner to be held tonight. This was: a starter of roast fillet of Norwegian cod "skrei" with celeriac purée, Lardo iberico and buttered verjus sauce, a main dish of pasture fed beef fillet in an oxtail jus with Savoy cabbage, pancetta, heritage beetroots and cultivated mushrooms, and finally a rose and almond pudding with poached rhubarb. The competitors were also told that they would have to make canapés or petit fours each, dependent on which course they decided to work on. After the class and Simon said: "This is the premier student competition. It stays true to competition values and college training, bringing in Michelin chefs to provide mentoring for the students. It's good to see front-of-house getting involved too, because they are an important part of the team. sh 3 "Any competition is important, it shows the leaders and gives you a view of the real world and what it is like in the industry. It's going to be a great competition this year." Next up was a front-of-house talk with Will Smith from Arbutus, who said: "Anyone can be a waiter, few can be a good waiter".         Susan Gregory, head of food at Nestlé Professional, took to the floor, sharing her perspective as a diner, she said: "You on front-of-house will make or break the evening." Throughout the day I had a chance to speak to the judges, James Tanner from Tanners, Andy Stacey, chef and lecturer, Stephen Mannock from The Kings Head, and Alison Gilbert, CH&Co. Master judge James said: "This is my 10th year as a judge here, this competition showcases the future talent of our industry.  To see how they grow in this week is very inspiring, they will take it with them for the rest of their lives." Speaking about why he chose to be a part of the competition, Andy said: "I was asked if I wanted to come aboard and I was very honored to be involved. "Former competitors have gone on to be very successful, it is an inspiration for them. It opens doors and inspires their future.  It's going to be a cracking final, they are all very good teams." mixology1Stephan has been a judge for the past eight years, and said: "There is phenomenal talent in this industry, the competition works as a superb bridge from college to the real world. It is an education programme within itself." The final judge, Alison, has been working with Toque d'Or for four years. She said: "As a company, it's important to support new talent, particularly in contract catering. This year's competitors seem very comfortable and relaxed, it's going to be a good final!" After the front-of-house talk the chefs went into the kitchen to start their preparations, and the front-of-house students set up the room for the dinner. Once the room was all set up, it was time for the mixology class, led by Helder Pinheiro from Firmdale Hotels. Sticking with the competitions sustainability theme, sustainable vodka was the chosen base for the alcoholic cocktail. The alcoholic cocktail for the dinner is La Belle Martini, which is William Chase vodka, rhubarb liquor, apple juice, rhubarb and ginger cordial, and rhubarb bitters.cocktails The non alcoholic cocktail is the Mandarin Caramel Coulis, a long drink with crushed ice, orange juice, cranberry juice, caramel syrup and pieces of mandarin. Speaking before the class, Helder told me that he chose the drinks because 'the components open the palate, they are really delicious drinks.' He added: "We are the first welcome to our guests, thankfully we have alcohol on our side" The last part of the day for the front-of-house competitors before they too went off to do their preparations was a wine tasting class, where they learnt what wine compliments each dish. Neil Philips, a professional wine performer, was the mentor for this class, having worked with Toque d'Or for the past three years. wine guyThe wines chosen to compliment the dishes were: Oldenburg vineyards 2013 Chenin blanc, for the starter, gauchezco plata 2011 gran reserva for the main and a dessert wine of marabino 2012 moscato della torre. One of the chef students, Pang from Blackpool and Fylde college,spoke to me before heading into the kitchen to start cooking. He said: "I enjoy the challenge and the adventure of the competition, it's also really good for your CV." Lanka, a competitor from the City of Glasgow College, joined the competition 'to challenge' herself, and added 'it's good practice for the future.' Tomorrow the students will have a sustainability talk followed by more classes and a practical challenge. By Samantha Wright The Nestlé Professional Toque d'Or competition is a UK wide search for the best student brigades of both chefs and front-of-house. The winning college will receive £2,500 worth of catering equipment and the students win £430 and a place on the annual Toque d’Or study trip.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th March 2015

Nestlé Professional Toque d'Or Grand Final: day 1