Hospitality Business Magazine

Top students sign on for culinary battle

rsz_toque_dorNew Zealand’s top hospitality students have signed on to battle it out in a live kitchen cook off that will find out who the country’s best culinary and restaurant service talents are.

Putting it all on the line at the annual Nestlé Toque d’Or competition will be 30 students from the country’s leading training institutes.

NZChefs National President and organiser of the event, Graham Hawkes, said all of the students have signed on for a gruelling training schedule, in a bid to take out the top title. “Nestlé Toque d’Or has been hotly contested for over 25 years and is considered to be New Zealand’s premier student culinary and front of house competition,” Graham said. “Last year, a team from the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki won the coveted award.”

Each of the competing institutes select a team comprising three of their top students – two culinary and one restaurant service. The teams then go onto spend months developing a competition menu, and perfecting their culinary and restaurant service routines for the big day. “All of this is done, while juggling study, work and personal commitments.”

On competition day, students are then placed into a ‘pressure-cooker’ situation where they have to create and deliver, as near to perfect as possible, the dishes on their menus.

Competitors are given in advance a list of ingredients that they can use and it is up to them to create a menu that will impress the judges. Included in this year’s line-up of ingredients are: Nestlé Professional products, fresh and seasonal New Zealand grown vegetables, New Zealand beef and Akaroa Salmon.

“Not only does the event give students the opportunity to compete against their peers, it also gives them a forum for showcasing their talents to influential culinary professionals who could end up hiring them.”

Sponsors are: Nestlé Professional, Beef + Lamb New Zealand,, Akaroa Salmon, House of Knives and Moffat.

Nestlé Toque d’Or will be held on 29 July at the Auckland Showgrounds. An awards dinner will be held later in the evening where the winning team will be announced.