Our Toque d’Or 2019 winners announced

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or® 2019 Grand Finalists outside Nestlé Professional Gatwick HQ building

Stars shine in Grand Finals focused on Sustainable Futures

The winners of Toque d’Or 2019 have been announced as University College Birmingham and apprentice Drew Dawson from 5 Star Hotel and members’ club The Ned.

Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or® 2019 Winners University College Birmingham & Nestlé Professional Manager Director Katya Simmons     Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or® 2019 Winner Drew Dawson & Nestlé Professional Sales Director Steve Norris

They were announced to the industry at our VIP awards lunch at the Royal Lancaster London on Friday 14th June 2019, hosted by Mark Durden Smith and Angellica Bell.

The finalists had been left in suspense for the results following an intense four-day Grand Finals held at the beginning of May. The 12 college and apprentice finalists experienced the true breadth of the industry with challenges including:

  • 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
  • Harvesting vegetables before creating their own sustainable vegetarian dish at Watts Farm in Dartford


Speaking about the Toque d’Or 2019 competition our Managing Director Katya Simmons, said:

“This is a life-changing moment for the winners. By giving them the opportunity to develop their knowledge in all aspects of the industry and work alongside high profile experts and chefs, the competition has paved the way for their careers. The winners’ creativity in their approach to the challenges really set them apart from the pack and they have set an incredibly high standard for next year’s competition.”


Yasmine Selwood from University College Birmingham shared her thoughts:

“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.”


Luke Haywood from University College Birmingham added:

“I came into this competition slightly daunted and not knowing what to expect, but we’ve grown together as a team and developed a really close bond. I think competitions like this are great because the industry is always changing and Toque d’Or provides the perfect platform to get you up to speed with all the latest trends and developments in the industry.”


Apprentice winner, Drew Dawson from The Ned also spoke about his experience:

“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 competition focused on sustainable futures, Katya Simmons explains:

“For us at Nestlé Professional, sustainability covers everything from food sourcing through to talent sourcing and retention. Rewarding career opportunities, innovation and creativity are exciting prospects for young talent, so it’s important the industry works together to celebrate its creativity and attract fresh talent.”


For more information about Toque d’Or and to get involved with next year’s competition following the link below:


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