James Hinchliffe, Head Chef at the Best Western Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford, discusses why students who have taken part in Toque d’Or stand head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to seeking employment...
If a CV lands on my desk that has Toque d’Or in it – I stop, read and invariably see that candidate. For me, a Toque d’Or CV stands out a mile. It immediately shows that the person wants to achieve better things in their career – to really push themselves.
And you can tell the difference between those who have taken part in a competition like this and those who haven’t. For one thing, those who have are much more confident, which instantly sets them apart.
Their enthusiasm for a career in hospitality really shines through and the energy and passion they bring – plus their practical skills – makes them an ideal member of the team.
The value of Toque d’Or to the hospitality industry cannot be underestimated, because of the quality of talent it helps to develop. There’s been a lot said about the skills shortage in the industry and in my opinion there are very few competitions that nurture talent the way Toque d’Or does.
Firstly, the competition encourages students to be self-motivated, which is so important in the workplace. What’s just as important is the experience of working under pressure. Students simply don’t get that in the classroom.
Also, it gets them used to producing something that’s going to be judged – just like I judge the dishes my chefs produce, day in, day out.
Moving the industry forward
For those of us looking to employ new graduates, choosing a Toque contestant means we’re getting someone who knows about the latest food trends and industry issues, and that’s vital.
The fact that this year’s competition is focusing on nutrition, health and wellness is a big bonus as it is an influencing factor as to where people choose to eat out these days. It’s certainly a big factor for us when planning our menus, and to know that a potential employee has a good grasp of this issue is a huge plus.
For the students themselves, a further benefit is that, at that important stage in their training, Toque is a useful way for them to see what kind of level they’re at and what they need to work on.
At the end of the day, competing in Toque d’Or is seen as one of the most influential and inspirational experiences a student can have in their careers and on their CV.