Toque d'Or 2020 - Winners announced

The  Staff Canteen

The results are in: Nestlé Professional has announced the winners of Toque d’Or 2020 in a live virtual awards ceremony.

Hosted on YouTube, the awards ceremony which took place on Friday 11 September was watched by industry insiders, media and supporters of the competition. 

The winners are: 
•    Katherine Altham from Kendal College (Back of house - student)
•    Alex Dick from City of Glasgow College (Front of house - student)
•    Lily Stock from Boodle’s (Back of house - apprentice)
•    Chelsie Robinson from The Cross Keys, Stow (Front of house - apprentice)
During the awards TV personality, Mark Durden-Smith, revealed the challenges the finalists had to face during this year’s competition and interviewed the competitors about their Toque d’Or journey, before Katya Simmons, Managing Director at Nestlé Professional® UK&I, announced each category’s winners. 
2020 has been a landmark year for Toque d’Or, with the competition having to change format due to the challenges of COVID-19. The competition also increased its digital elements, with digital entries, Instagram-led challenges and virtual Finals and Awards, a first in its 32-year history. 
At the beginning of the year, the National Heats took place across the country in Glasgow, Birmingham, Westminster and Gatwick, where aspiring hospitality superstars battled it out in front of a live audience and panel of expert judges. Following the virtual re-jig, the competitors continued to compete in a series of challenges designed to stretch their knowledge and prepare them for the world in the ‘new normal’. 
The finale of the competition saw front and back of house finalists take part in a series of digital challenges in August, aimed at helping competitors develop their own ‘Click and Collect’ business model. 
The challenges consisted of a mix of practical, service-based and business-focused tasks, concentrating on crucial areas such as social media promotion, business management and sustainable food and drink. Each challenge was overseen by a panel of expert judges including James Tanner, Acclaimed Chef and Restauranteur; Ruth Hansom, the first female to win Young National Chef of the Year and contestant of this year’s Great British Menu; Alison Taffs, Owner at Alison Taffs People Development and The Grape Society; and Robert Smith, Creative Director and Producer at Shuttersmith Media. 
Speaking about the Toque d’Or 2020 competition, Katya Simmons, Managing Director at Nestlé Professional® UK&I, said: “This is a transformative moment for the winners. Time and again, we’ve seen this competition open doors to new and exciting opportunities within the industry. The winners’ inspired business plans demonstrated tremendous creativity.
“Everyone who took part this year should be really proud of themselves for persevering through incredibly challenging circumstances. In addition to honing their skills and adding value to their CV’s, they all brought positivity and celebration to the hospitality industry at a time when it was very much needed.”
Talking about her experience, back of house apprentice winner, Lily Stock, said: “I was over the moon when I found out I had won, with this being my second year in the final, I felt it was a really big achievement. 
“The competition was so different compared to last year. When I first found out I was in the final, I thought I had an advantage as I knew what to expect but then when it went digital, it was like doing a completely different competition. It was a brilliant experience to be a part of and well done to all the other finalists, I know how hard everyone worked and they should all be very proud of themselves.”
Front of house student winner, Alex Dick, also commented: “Winning was such an incredible feeling, for myself and for my college who are incredibly proud and supportive. I really wanted to show off Scotland’s larder, especially from my local area, and through a pretty intense week I managed to create quite an awesome business. Local produce truly is the way forward.

“For anyone thinking of entering next year’s competition, my advice would be to do it! You learn so many new skills and ideas, as well as grow in confidence throughout the whole experience.”
Now in its 32nd year, Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or is 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. 
Each of the challenges have been supported by Toque d’Or’s valued partners, which included Grindsmith, WSET, OLIO, Nescafé, Shuttersmith Media and Footprint Media. As well as this year’s sponsors PACE, HIT Training, Savoy Educational Trust, Russums, Nespresso and Springboard.
For more information about Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or and to get involved with next year’s competition visit:   

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th September 2020

Toque d'Or 2020 - Winners announced