From its early days when the fledgling event was unveiled in Auckland in 1991 to today’s high powered and glitzy affair, Nestlé Toque d’Or has always remained true to its ‘raison d’etre’ – supporting the country’s up-and-coming hospitality stars.
The concept was formulated by Nestlé FoodServices, now called Nestlé Professional, in the late 80s when the popularity of shoulder pads and new romantic music was on its way out. Students from key training institutes around the country took to the floor at the inaugural event in Auckland. It was there that the competing teams created their culinary masterpieces within set time parameters for the attending judges to assess. After the results were tallied up, chefs Bernhard Langer and Alan Thompson representing the then Auckland Technical Institute, were declared the winners.
Since those early days, much has changed. The ingredients used, menus devised, technology and venues for this highly regarded and iconic event have becoming increasingly sophisticated. Some of the more notable changes included the introduction of a restaurant service component in 1995, launch of an Innovation Award, ushering in of new sponsors and a brief foray into a post event workshop and social activity called the ‘Big Day Out’.
Despite these changes, the essence of what makes this annual event so successful continues to resonate with the hospitality industry.
Testing the abilities of top culinary and restaurant students from around the country as they compete against one another on what is deemed to be a ‘level playing field’ is what the event is all about. The competition is high pressure, errors cost dearly in lost points and the stakes are high as all eyes are fixed firmly on taking out the top award.
The event has also served as a platform for launching many students’ careers and the competition arena and awards function have become a scouting ground for those looking to hire top talent.
Fast forward to the end of 2015 and 25 teams will have been presented with the coveted award in recognition of their outstanding achievement. As the competitors abilities’ and knives are sharpened this year, another team stands poised to take out the top award. Their victory will be even sweeter this year when they stand triumphant on a stage that has been the toast of 25 years’ worth of effort.
The Nestlé Toque d’Or Hall of Fame
1991 Auckland Technical Institute
Chefs Bernhard Langer & Alan Thompson
1992 Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Chefs Wendy Rushworth & Darren Wells
1993 Wellington Polytechnic
Chefs Sonya Paget & John Allred
1994 Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Chefs Nathan Sandes & Stephen Boyles
1995 Waikato Institute of Technology
Chefs Lisa Woodward & Adrian Merrilees with Deidre Williams
1996 Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Chefs Darren Potaka & Athol Hurst with Michael Hyde
1997 Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Chefs Hamish Brown & Stacey Paulin with Georgina Murfitt
1998 Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Chefs Andrea Marett & Sarah Hampton with Georgina Murfitt
1999 Aoraki Polytechnic
Chefs Julie King & Kirsten Hickey with Susan Salisbury
2000 Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Chefs Darrell Van der Slys & Johnathon Reid with Jannelle Frost
2001 Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Chefs Hamish Watson & Rebecca Driscoll with Justine Williams
2002 Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Chefs Glenn Wright & Rebecca Densem with Nathan Gudsel
2003 Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Chefs Guy Stanaway & Melanie Ellis with Kristine Pereira
2004 Wanganui Universal College of Learning
Chefs Amy Peck & Scott Keenan with Carmel Hughes
2005 Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Chefs Cameron Davies & Natalie Trethowens with Lauri Bower
2006 Southern Institute of Technology
Chefs Thomas Hishon & Joseph Clarke with Fina Kristen Pirie
2007 Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Chefs Damon Griffin & Taryn Phaal with Fina McGovern
2008 New Zealand Defence Force Joint Service Catering School
Chefs Stephen Hogan & Makere Lee with Kirsty Lister
2009 Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Chefs Ryan Lynch & Sara Chang with Nicole Carlson
2010 Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Chefs Gavin Larson & Bonnie Smith with Rhys Barrington
2011 Wellington Institute of Technology
Chefs Lillian Poulgrain & Eun Yu with Melissa Lind
2012 Wellington Institute of Technology
Chefs Wei Jun Lee & Beth Christieson with Iain Charlton
2013 Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Chefs Hannah Grieve & Daniel Hoare with Gina Johns
2014 Otago Polytechnic Cromwell Campus
Erin Fenemor & Emma Evans with Ashleigh Kerr
Nestlé Toque d’Or will be held on 30 July at the Auckland Showgrounds.