Hospitality and supervision students at West Nottinghamshire College have been perfecting their drinks-making skills as they compete in the local heats of a national competition next week.

Students on the Advanced Diploma in Hospitality Supervision and Leadership and the Level 2 Food and Beverage Service programme have been selected by tutors to take their creativity to the next level and represent the college in a highly prestigious catering competition designed for chefs, front-of-house students, and apprentices across the country.

Having dedicated a day after the Christmas break to practising for the competition, with Principal and Chief Executive Andrew Cropley as one of the judges, tutors are now confident for seven of the class to perform an in-house challenge on Monday 7 February, ready to take on this year’s Nestlé Professional Toque D’Or challenge.

This will see the students put together a hot or iced coffee drink of their choice for judges. The judging team will be made up of members of the college’s executive team plus Philip Trease, Managing Director of Weavers wine merchants in Nottingham.

Competition rules state that the drink must be inspired by a country of their choice and made within a budget of £5, while the table must be laid in that country’s style and culture. Another part of the challenge asks students to look at the theme of sustainable futures.

Competitors must cover elements such as nutrition, health, food waste and seasonality, and must research how their country of choice implements these points before feeding their research back to judges. Judges will mark their work on taste, texture, presentation, the story behind their table theme, accuracy, hygiene and overall impression.

Last year the college saw a mix of trainee chefs and hospitality and supervision students put through to the heats of the Toque D’Or challenge with a multitude of vegan-based food and drink creations.

This year, students Harry Rayment, Kai Blandy, Clara Betts, Annabelle Pye, Brooke Purdie, Lewis Finch and Aeron Buxton are the selected students who will be undertaking the challenge on 7 February.

Clara Betts (18) from Mansfield is one of the competitors. She said: “Originally, I created a Chinese-themed iced oat milk coffee with a shot of vanilla syrup and rosewater. On top I used a violet-cooled milk froth and decorated with flowers. I may look at a different country in the forthcoming competition but it will be oriental.

“The practice session has been helpful in the lead up to February’s challenge as it’s allowed me to think of areas where I can improve my sustainability research side of things, and I will be making my table larger and use more decoration to represent the country.”

Tutor Joanne Wilson said: “During the practice session the other week, we were really impressed by the students’ novel ideas with their coffee drinks. There was such attention to detail in how the drinks looked and tasted and our judges were suitable impressed.

“Their table designs were eye-catching and creative and brought both fun and cultural awareness to the competition, and a lot of thought went into each country’s approach to sustainability. I have every confidence in this group and would be delighted to see someone go through to the heats in March.”

Successful competitors will next be asked to recreate their drink in a short video which will be judged by Toque D’Or representatives, who will then decide who goes through to the heats. Students must speak about their passion for the hospitality industry in the video, as well as what it means to take part in Toque D’Or 2022.

Another requirement of the competition is that each competitor must follow the Toque D’Or Instagram account, for tips on how to best lay a table and prepare a coffee drink. Students must upload two photographs of their task, tag @nestletoquedor, and use the hashtag #toquedor2022.

The heats will take place over five days in late March at Nestle’s head office in Gatwick. Following the Grand Finals, two front-of-house and two back-of-house winners will be announced at the awards ceremony and invited on the Toque d’Or 2022 winners’ trip. This includes a gastronomic weekend in Dubai and attendance at the World Chef’s Congress and Expo 2022 in Abu Dhabi.

More about Toque D’Or

Nestlé Professional Toque D’Or began in 1989 and since then has evolved significantly to become one of the UK’s most prestigious catering competitions. Being part of this competition can change a student’s career, with the industry recognising that Toque D’Or students have demonstrated true passion and commitment.

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