The results of the Nestlé Professional Toque d'Or 2020 virtual awards have been announced.
The winners are Katherine Altham from Kendal College, for the back of house – student category (pictured above, right); Alex Dick from the City of Glasgow College (front of house – student); Lily Stock from Boodle's Gentleman's Club in London (back of house – apprentice); and Chelsie Robinson from the Cross Keys in Stow, Lincolnshire (front of house – apprentice, pictured above, left).
The Toque d'Or competition was fully digital this year, due to Covid-19, for the first time in its 32-year history. Challenges took place online in August, with the aim of helping both front and back of house competitors develop their own click-and-collect business model.
The challenges consisted of a mix of practical, service-based and business-focused tasks, concentrating on crucial areas such as social media promotion, business management and sustainable food and drink.
Each challenge was overseen by a panel of expert judges, including chef and restaurateur James Tanner, Ruth Hansom, head chef of the Princess of Shoreditch, Alison Taffs, owner at Alison Taffs People Development and the Grape Society, and Robert Smith, creative director and producer at Shuttersmith Media.
During the virtual ceremony, TV personality Mark Durden-Smith interviewed the competitors about their Toque d'Or journey, before Katya Simmons, managing director at Nestlé Professional UK and Ireland, announced each category's winners.
Simmons said: "This is a transformative moment for the winners. Time and again, we've seen this competition open doors to new and exciting opportunities within the industry. The winners' inspired business plans demonstrated tremendous creativity.
"Everyone who took part this year should be really proud of themselves for persevering through incredibly challenging circumstances. In addition to honing their skills and adding value to their CVs, they all brought positivity and celebration to the hospitality industry at a time when it was very much needed."
Talking about her experience, back of house apprentice winner Lily Stock (pictured below) said: "I was over the moon when I found out I had won. With this being my second year in the final, I felt it was a really big achievement."
Front of house student winner Alex Dick commented: "Winning was such an incredible feeling, for myself and for my college, who are incredibly proud and supportive. I really wanted to show off Scotland's larder, especially from my local area, and through a pretty intense week I managed to create quite an awesome business. Local produce truly is the way forward.
"For anyone thinking of entering next year's competition, my advice would be to do it! You learn so many new skills and ideas, as well as grow in confidence throughout the whole experience."