Nestlé Professional Toque d'Or winners experience regenerative farming in Brazil

13 September 2023 by
Nestlé Professional Toque d'Or winners experience regenerative farming in Brazil

This year's Nestlé Professional Toque d'Or winners have returned from a trip to Brazil exploring the impact of regenerative farming in coffee and cocoa production.

Joshua Kerr from City of Glasgow College and Amber Clay from University College Birmingham, both of whom were named champions of the 35th iteration of the competition in June, embarked on the gastronomic tour of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Espírito Santo on 20 July.

They dined at Michelin-starred restaurants in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, explored the country's top landmarks by helicopter, boat, and foot, and learned about regenerative farming techniques at a Nescafé Plan 2030 coffee farm.

The pair also had the chance to sample different coffees at the Nescafé Coffee Quality Lab, as well as experience the Nestlé Cocoa Plan cocoa farm.

Brazilian coffee farmer Luiza Bonobo said: "We're going back to organic farming methods for our crops, which means the soil retains more water, bringing more nutrients and minerals to the plants. We plant a variety of trees in the farm, creating a better microclimate that does not stress the coffee trees. We control irrigation, using the ideal quantity of water for the time of the year and day. We also manage the soil to bring more nutrients to the plants and use biological products to prevent or control disease."

Kerr, Toque d'Or 2023 FOH winner, said: "The food here in Brazil is absolutely amazing. They've got such an international array of foods – from Michelin-starred Japanese restaurants to traditional Brazilian barbecues.

"I really enjoyed being at the cocoa farm in Espirito de Santo seeing the farmers harvesting the cocoa. I was so impressed by how Nestlé look after the sustainability aspects of the farm and the farmers as well."

Clay, Toque d'Or 2023 BOH winner, added: "Going to the coffee farm was really, really exciting. Learning about how Nestlé are supporting farmers to change the way coffee is farmed to make it more sustainable; increasing biodiversity so as not to create a monoculture.

"Equally, I was really surprised that they grow black pepper next to coffee. I'd never known about that. For me as a chef, it was really interesting to see all the pepper plants."

Katya Simmons, managing director of Nestlé Professional UK&I, commented: "Nestlé Professional Toque d'Or exemplifies our commitment to supporting young hospitality talent, and every year we're proud to watch these young people grow as they progress through the competition. This year we were particularly proud to give the winners an exclusive look around some of our top Brazilian farms, which, with our help, are transitioning to regenerative farming practices."

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