Toque d'Or is one of the most prestigious competitions in the hospitality industry. And while winning the title is a huge achievement, it shouldn’t be the focus – that is the advice of two of last year’s winners, Yasmine Selwood and Drew Dawson.
Yasmine, who had been a stay at home mum for 12 years before signing up for a professional cookery course at University College Birmingham in 2018, says while she was thrilled to win the prestigious title, her advice would be to focus on the experience, not the competition.
“Toque d'Or was genuinely on of the most amazing experiences and it doesn’t really feel like a competition when you’re there because it’s like one big team.”
“Everyone is there because they want to be a part of this amazing experience – to learn from the best, challenge yourself and feel that sense of accomplishment when you do well. So my advice would be don’t put too much focus on the competition element, because it is more about shaping the future of the industry than winning.”
Drew Dawson agrees, saying it was an “honour” just to be a part of the competition and urges anyone taking part this year to make the most of it, because the experiences he had, the people he met and the skills he gained are invaluable.
“My advice to anyone entering the competition would be to not treat it as a competition,” he said.
Drew, who was working as an apprentice at 5 Star Hotel and members’ club, The Ned, when he entered said:
“If you make it to the finals you've already won. It's an experience of a lifetime and the skills you'll pick up and hone are the most valuable thing you take away from it.”
Yasmine says she was blown away by how much she got out of the experience and urges anyone who is worried they might not be ready to just go for it.
“Initially, I felt a little out of my depth. But once we got through the heats and into the final, I started to relax a lot more and really enjoy the experience. My advice for those this year is to be yourself, be open to anything and absorb everything. And make sure you take a notebook and write everything down – you will learn so much that there is no way you’ll remember it all otherwise!”
Yasmine said one of the most valuable parts of the experience was all the people they met, not just the experts and mentors already at the top of their game, but all the other people taking part too.
“Make sure you talk to as many people as you can, including your peers because these people are the future of the industry and you will want to help and support each other as you progress in your careers.”
Register for Toque d'Or 2020 now!