Finalists of the Toque d’Or® 2020 heats announced

The Staff Canteen

Nestlé Professional® has revealed the 12 college students and 12 apprentices who took the top spot at the coveted Toque d’Or National Heats and secured a place to compete in the Grand Finals.

Competing in the National Heats, which took place across the country in Glasgow, Birmingham, Westminster and Gatwick, were a total of 78 aspiring hospitality superstars who battled it out in front of a live audience and panel of expert judges.

The college students and apprentices of both chefs and front of house professionals all took part in a series of challenges and masterclasses focused around the holistic relationship between food, sustainability and nutrition.

For the back of house students and apprentices this meant watching a masterclass in preparing a two-course menu of beetroot risotto and a rhubarb, ginger and clementine posset accompanied by shortbread biscuits, to replicate and serve to the watching judges and guests diners.

New for this year is the Front of House award, where the industry’s budding baristas, service champions and aspiring managers were tasked with showcasing five-star service, sommelier skills and cocktail crafting for the guests, after taking part in a customer service masterclass.

The skills of the back of house and front of house competitors were then put to the test as they teamed up to serve one table of two guests.

Judges for the National Heats included hospitality mogul, Alison Taffs; Group Operations and Development Chef at Principal Hotels, Adam Bateman; Hospitality consultant, Miriam Garstang; and new to the competition this year, Ruth Hansom, the first female to win Young National Chef of the Year.

Ruth said: “As my first year judging the competition it was inspiring to see just how passionate and hungry to succeed the competitors are – there was some serious talent taking part. It’s going to be an exciting ride for those that have made it through to the Grand Finals. It’s amazing to see the competitors so engaged with the Sustainable Futures theme, it’s really apparent just how connected the future faces of hospitality are to this topic and competitions like Nestle Professional®’s Toque d’Or provide the perfect platform for this interest to grow.”

The judges were looking for technical skill, an understanding of nutritional menus, minimal food waste and sustainable ingredients, five-star service and passion from the competitors.

Katya Simmons, Managing Director at Nestlé Professional® UK&I, added: “We saw some of the most challenging heats yet, but the talent shone through. We’re looking forward to giving the finalists the journey of a lifetime as we progress to the next stage of the competition. “Through this year’s competition and workshops the contestants are exploring the holistic relationship between health, sustainability and nutrition and will shine a spotlight on how the hospitality industry can empower consumers in making better choices for themselves and the planet. It has been fantastic to see the contestants really getting to grips with this challenge during the National Heats and I’m excited to see what creations the finalists come up with during the Grand Finals – it’s one not to be missed!”

Those which stood out the most to the judges and are, therefore, going through to the Grand Finals are:

Student Back of House

Ben Smith, Tameside College

Erica Agyei, University of Derby

Joshua O'Reilly, The Sheffield College

Katherine Altham, Kendal College

Kian Marshall, Newcastle College

Vasileios Xanthopoulus, City of Glasgow College

Student Front of House

Alex Dick, City of Glasgow College

Eleanor Dee, Ayrshire College

Josh Tellwright, University of Derby

Patrick Murray, Vision West Notts

Sophie Taylor, Edinburgh College

Taylor Corkery, Farnborough College of Technology

Apprentice Back of House

Andrej Zak, Eccles Hotel & Spa Ben Dullea, Pomona's

Fergus Chalmers, The Polecat Inn

Jack Clarke, East India Club

Lily Stock Boodle's, St James's

Mohit Kaku, Eccles Hotel & Spa

Apprentice Front of House

Ciro Pizzi, Nirvana Spa

Chelsie Robinson, The Cross Keys Stow

Emad Shehata, Prima Pizza and Pasta

Rosie Burvill, The Westleton Crown

Tegan Taylor, Mallory Court Country House Hotel & Spa

Ziggy Ward, The Orchard Café


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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 16th March 2020

Finalists of the Toque d’Or® 2020 heats announced