South West College have been crowned the winners of the 2013 Nestlé Toque d'Or competition at a celebratory 25 year anniversary event at London's Dorchester Hotel. This is the first time an Irish team have won the competition.
The winning team from Northern Ireland, made up of food and beverage service student Colleen McCann and professional cookery student Lauren Beavers join a high-profile list of previous winners including Anton Mosimann, with whom the team will spend time enjoying a personalised work placement experience.
Eight teams competed for the top spot after a challenging four-day grand final against teams from University College Birmingham, South Downs College, University of Derby, City of Glasgow College, Liverpool Community College, Blackpool and the Fylde College and the College of West Anglia, Kings Lynn.
James Tanner, chair of judges, said: "The students are really thrown in at the deep end throughout the competition, faced with foreign products in an unfamiliar and often daunting environment.
"It takes a lot of guts to overcome the pressures, rise above them and make the most of the grand finals. South West College grasped the opportunity with both hands; they kept their cool throughout with a consistent performance, and really deserve huge congratulations."
"We felt very far from home throughout the competition, but were determined to represent our college the very best we could. We worked hard as individuals and as a team and couldn't be more proud to be the first team to lift the trophy as representatives of colleges in Ireland.
"We are now looking forward to spending some amazing time working with Anton Mosimann - it's literally a dream come true."
Neil Stephens, managing director of Nestlé Professional added: "It's impossible to underestimate the pressure that is on the students throughout the finals.
"What they achieve over the course of the competition is truly inspirational and I wish them every success in their future careers - judging by their collective performance in this year's competition, they're destined for great things."