From its early days when the fledgling event was unveiled in Auckland in 1991 to today’s high powered and glitzy affair, Nestlé Toque d’Or has always remained true to its ‘raison d’etre’ – supporting the country’s up-and-coming hospitality stars.
The concept was formulated by Nestlé FoodServices, now called Nestlé Professional, in the late 1980’s. Students from key training institutes around the country took to the floor at the inaugural event in Auckland. It was there that the competing teams created their culinary masterpieces within set time parameters for the attending judges to assess. After the results were tallied up, chefs Bernhard Langer and Alan Thompson representing the then Auckland Technical Institute, were declared the winners.
Since those early days, much has changed. The ingredients used, menus devised, technology and venues for this highly regarded and iconic event have becoming increasingly sophisticated. Some of the more notable changes included the introduction of a restaurant service component in 1995, launch of an Innovation Award, ushering in of new sponsors and a brief foray into a post event workshop and social activity called the ‘Big Day Out’.
Despite these changes, the essence of what makes teannual event so successful continues to resonate with the hospitality industry.
Testing the abilities of top culinary and restaurant students from around the country as they compete against one another on what is deemed to be a ‘level playing field’ is what the event is all about. The competition is high pressure, errors cost dearly in lost points and the stakes are high as all eyes are fixed firmly on taking out the top award.
The event has also served as a platform for launching many students’ careers and the competition arena and awards function have become a scouting ground for those looking to hire top talent.
Fast forward to the end of 2015 and 25 teams will have been presented with the coveted award in recognition of their outstanding achievement. As the competitors abilities’ and knives are sharpened this year, another team stands poised to take out the top award. Their victory will be even sweeter this year when they stand triumphant on a stage that has been the toast of 25 years’ worth of effort.
Nestlé Toque d’Or will be held on 30 July at the Auckland Showgrounds.