New Zealand’s top student culinary competition – Nestlé Toque d’Or – returns this year with a revamped format that will see the inclusion of entrants who are also learning on the job as trainees at restaurants and other establishments.

Organised by NZChefs in conjunction with Nestlé Professional and supported by top organisations involved in the hospitality industry, Nestlé Toque d’Or is considered to be the premium competition for the country’s emerging culinary and restaurant service superstars.

NZChefs President Hughie Blues says including trainees in the competition was a logical progression for the competition, as it reflects the evolving hospitality sector.

“We’re also adopting a more relaxed approach to restaurant service in the competition guidelines and introducing a cheese board component, with the assistance of the NZ Specialist Cheesemakers Association, where creativity and personal flair can be expressed by the front of house competitor.”

The event which turns 29 this year, pits teams of three – two culinary and one restaurant service competitors – against each other in a live kitchen cook off. Last year, a team from the Ara Institute of Canterbury took out the coveted title.

To succeed on competition day, teams must prepare and serve six covers of a three-course meal within a set timeframe. They also need to impress a panel of top industry judges who score their efforts against strict World Chefs’ marking criteria.

This year’s line-up of sponsors includes newcomer Fresh Connection which specialises in the supply of fresh and prepared produce to the food service industry.

The organisation’s spokesperson General Manager Stephen Dench says he is excited about the new partnership and the opportunity it presents to create a deeper connection with the hospitality industry, while also showcasing the company’s extensive product range.

Working alongside Nestlé Professional will also be returning sponsors – Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Akaroa Salmon, House of Knives, Moffat and NZChefs.

Nestlé Toque d’Or will be held on Monday 12 August in Auckland. An awards dinner will be held later in the evening where the winning team will be crowned. Learn more at

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