Bethaney Mae Allen and the Nestlé Toque d’Or rollercoaster
Bethaney Mae Allen has been riding a wave of success since she and her teammates from Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in Rotorua won last year’s Nestlé Toque d’Or.
Bethaney says the team’s victory opened many doors and opportunities for both her and her teammates.
Having distinguished herself as a talented culinary student at the competition helped her to secure a work experience placement at Simon Gault’s highly lauded Giraffe restaurant in Auckland.
“I met some amazing talented people there who helped me to further my skills plus I also got to work in such a cool environment.”
She was also offered two part-time jobs which she accepted - one at the Mistress of Cakes in Rotorua and another at a former classmate’s newly opened café.
Aside from the job opportunities, Bethaney says her involvement in Nestlé Toque d’Or led to a vast improvement in her culinary abilities.
“I have so much more confidence in the kitchen now and my tidiness has improved tenfold.”
For this year’s competitors, Bethaney encourages them to make the most of it, as there are many benefits that come from competing.
Her top tip is to thoroughly read and have a good understanding of the criteria.
“Also, try to maintain a calm demeanour and stick to your training methods throughout.
“On the day, try to be as relaxed as possible and go with the flow to ensure everything you’ve learnt is used for the best possible outcome. During the training process, I found it best to have the occasional day to myself so that I wasn’t too flustered and overwhelmed by it all.”
For Bethaney, the most challenging part of the competition was the entrée.
“It was the last dish that we trained to prepare and the fragility of the ingredients slowed down the plating process.”
However, with the tactical and efficient use of teamwork they were able to successfully pull it off on the day.
“It’s really important to work as efficiently as possible with teammates. They are your partners for success and communication is key.”
Bethaney says ‘thinking outside the square’ and taking a sustainable approach in the kitchen was also a key part of the team’s training strategy.
“For the entrée part of the competition, we scraped the frame of the salmon after filleting and used that to make the salmon tartar.”
She says the most enjoyable part of the competition overall was the friendships she made not only with her teammates but also other competitors who have since become like lifelong friends.
And her parting words of advice for this year’s teams is to stay calm on the day, smile and enjoy what will be a rollercoaster ride.
Nestlé Toque d’Or will be held on Monday 13 August at the Auckland Showgrounds. An awards dinner will be held later in the evening where the winning team will be crowned.
Sponsors include Nestlé Professional, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, vegetables.co.nz, Akaroa Salmon, House of Knives, Moffat and NZChefs.