Hat trick for Westminster Kingsway College at Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or Awards

Westminster Kingsway College has become the first college in the UK to win the prestigious Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or trophy for the third time. The Westminster Kingsway College team of chef students Josie Thompson and Chris Davis and front of house student Rebecca Heath took their prize – and walked into a place in ‘Toque d’Or’ history – at the awards dinner at London’s prestigious Dorchester Hotel. Nestlé Professional® Managing Director, George Vezza, described the finalist teams as ‘inspirational’, and said that “if this is the future of our industry – then we are in good hands”.

The 2015 Toque d’Or presentation was witnessed by many of the most respected names in Hospitality who saw annual celebration of young talent and achievement in the industry. The Westminster Kingsway College team faced five other colleges in the finals, chosen from a record number of 120 team entries in 2015 and all representing the best of the next generation of Hospitality stars. Winning team member Rebecca Heath, studying Restaurant Supervision at Westminster Kingsway College said: “This experience will stay with us forever; everything we have learned, everything we got to try and the ways in which we developed throughout the competitions, both as a team and individuals – it’s unforgettable. We are honoured to have been selected to compete in Toque d’Or against some truly incredible rival teams and to have won has really left us speechless with emotion. It is the perfect end to all our Westminster Kingsway College careers, and the most amazing start to our careers in Hospitality.” The winning student team were mentored by Westminster Kingsway College chef lecturer Vince Cottam.

The judging panel – which included celebrity chef and Head Judge, James Tanner and former lecturer Andy Stacey, who previously took two teams to Toque d’Or victory – awarded the top prize to Westminster Kingsway College for their “overall professionalism, wonderful flexibility and nature in the face of incredibly long hours, highly developed skill sets and their clear passion for the industry.” The teams faced four days of challenges and tasks to test their skills from delivering a gala dinner to running street food stalls. The winning college team were awarded £2,500 of catering equipment for their college and each team member won a cash prize of £400 and a voucher for £30 to be spent at Russums as well as a place on the acclaimed Toque d’Or study trip which includes experiences working with chef Henri Brossi at The Dorchester, attending a master class at Billingsgate market and the chance to serve a three course lunch to 1,000 guests at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

Gary Hunter, Head of Culinary Arts, Hospitality and Food Service at Westminster Kingsway College said: “This is the leading hospitality student competition in the academic calendar and the experience that all the finalist student teams receive from the Toque d’Or examiners is unique. Our students are always motivated to develop and are stretched and challenged by entering national competitions such as this, which is why we place such an emphasis on competition work within our diverse curriculum. Our lecturers demonstrate such strong dedication and commitment to teaching that entering competitions is a natural extension to learning and lecturers such as Vince Cottam lead by example and achieve brilliant results. To see our students consistently perform to exceptional standards in this challenging arena and being acknowledged by our industry peers means that Westminster Kingsway College achieves at the highest level. Winning this trophy three times in recent years is a fabulous accomplishment and I would like to acknowledge the incredible work that Nestle and the Toque d’Or Planning Team undertake each year in order to make the experience for all students memorable, stimulating and demanding.”

Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or awards prizes at all stages of the competition from a fund £25,000 per year supported by long-standing partners, The Savoy Educational Trust. Prizes are presented to all teams who reach the regional heats and grand finals to purchase equipment to benefit students. Visit www.nestle-toquedor.co.uk

Westminster Kingsway College has an excellent reputation within the hospitality and catering industry and famous former students include Jamie Oliver. The College offers a unique opportunity to study in central London for vocational qualifications that are tailored direct to employment opportunities. Visit www.westking.ac.uk

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