The 2016 Winners - Where Are They Now?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The 2016 Winners - Where Are They Now?
Winning Nestlé Toque d’Or is more than just an incredible triumph in a tough competition it’s also a game changer for the competitors.
 
Kate Bryant, Summer Dennison and Keziah O’Connor made up the team from UCOL which took out top honours at the competition in 2016. All three say winning has helped open doors and elevated them up the career ladder.
 
Currently working as a chef at Cafe Jacko in Palmerston North, Kate said winning Nestlé Toque d’Or has added an extra ‘edge’ to her curriculum vitae.
 
“It made it really easy for me to get a foot in the door and secure an interview,” Kate said.
 
“With my current job, I was offered the position the very next day after I’d been interviewed.”
 
For Kate, the competition was also a great confidence booster and helped her master core techniques during the months of practise leading up to the event.
 
Her cooking partner - Keziah - moved to Tauranga after the competition and found a job as a chef at Macau Restaurant. She also said the win at Nestlé Toque d’Or helped her land the job.
 
“The competition itself wasn’t as difficult as all of the challenging training that goes into preparing for it,” Kate said.
 
“I actually thought it was really fun on competition day. I’m glad I did it not only for what we achieved but also for what we learnt during the three months of practice sessions.”
 
She is now looking for a chef position in Christchurch after having notched up a significant life event earlier this year.
 
“I got married in March and have just moved back down to Christchurch with my husband.”
 
Another person who played a key role in the team’s win was Summer Dennison - the front of house competitor.
 
“The day of the competition was probably the best that I had performed. I didn’t really let the nerves get to me,” Summer said.
 
Since then, she has quickly moved from restaurant service to reception at the Hotel Coachman in Palmerston North. Summer said she is trying to gain as much experience of the industry as she can and is considering hotel management as a future career option.