Foodservice Footprint 01-830675-scaled Taste the Triumph: Nestlé Professional crowns 2024 Toque d'Or® champions Innovation Marketplace

Taste the Triumph: Nestlé Professional crowns 2024 Toque d’Or® champions

Nestlé Professional is thrilled to announce the winners of the 36th edition of its prestigious hospitality competition Toque d’Or. After an exhilarating Grand Finals Week held from April 21 to 25, Geraldine Sierra Torres from Westminster Kingsway College and Jasmine Ferdinando from York College have been crowned as the champions of this year’s competition.

This year’s Grand Finals comprised a series of action-packed challenges focused on sustainability, covering topics such as food provenance, regenerative agriculture and how hospitality plays an important role in supporting communities. Each day presented a unique opportunity for the 12 finalists to showcase their skills, creativity and passion, from curating menus using sustainably sourced ingredients and engaging in food foraging activities, to delving into the principles of sustainable farming and production.

Competitors received unparalleled guidance and expertise from a distinguished panel of judges. Two Michelin-star chef Tommy Banks spearheaded the BOH judging panel alongside his culinary partner Tom Bell and Nestlé’s global executive chef Emmanuel Lorieux. For FOH, the judging panel was led by winner of the 2023 Gold Service Scholarship and footman at The Royal Household, Jupiter Humphrey-Bishop, along with Nestlé Professional’s master barista Christos Sotiros, Nespresso customer service manager Vincenzo D’Aniello, and cocktail expert Nicolas Medicamento.

Former Toque d’Or competitors, now ambassadors and judges of the competition, including 2023 BOH finalist Emily Simkins, 2018 FOH winner Antonia Macfarlane, 2021 FOH winner Sophie Taylor, and last year’s FOH champion Joshua Kerr, all contributed their invaluable expertise. Drawing from their own experiences as past winners and finalists, the rising industry stars were able to inspire and guide this year’s finalists through the different challenges.

This year’s Grand Finals Week was hosted at various iconic locations including the Fine Dining Challenge, which was held at D&D London’s ‘Blueprint’ on the south bank of the River Thames. The week offered a series of challenges that pushed the competitors to their limits while allowing them to demonstrate their skills and ingenuity while still being built around the competition’s overarching theme of sustainability.

It all began with Sodexo’s ‘farm-to-fork’ challenge set by competition partners Sodexo Live! and Full Circle Farms. Held at Full Circle Farms in West Sussex, finalists were able to learn all about regenerative agriculture and the importance of community support. In this challenge, the competitors were assessed on a wide range of criteria, including their approach to foraging wild ingredients, their teamwork skills when assembling their street-food inspired menus, and their understanding of regenerative agriculture.

The Starbucks® coffee challenge took place the following day, where the finalists learned all about the provenance of 100% ethically sourced Arabica coffee beans and delved into the art of coffee craftsmanship at the Starbucks Support Centre in Chiswick. In pairs, the finalists were tasked with crafting an iced signature beverage tailored to the discerning palate of Gen Z consumers. They were judged on their creative flare when making the signature beverages, while ensuring coffee stood out as the hero ingredient. This challenge provided the finalists with a hands-on learning experience focused on the art of brewing, including cold brew techniques, and espresso pouring.

On the third day of Grand Finals Week, FOH finalists received a masterclass in the art of cocktail making, courtesy of competition partner Nestlé Waters (San Pellegrino), which was delivered by Nicolas Medicamento. BOH competitors ventured out for a foodie tour at London’s famous Borough Market to soak in some of the capital’s best culinary talent. Later that day, the finalists enjoyed a customer service masterclass led by Jupiter Humphrey-Bishop, a coffee masterclass delivered by Nespresso‘s Vincenzo D’Aniello and Nestlé Professional’s Christos Sotiros, and finally a wine masterclass from 2018 FOH Toque d’Or winner, Antonia MacFarlane.

The Fine Dining Challenge provided competitors with an opportunity to use all these learnings to deliver an unforgettable fine dining experience, including a menu curated by Tommy Banks, for 60 discerning guests. Using ingredients supplied by competition partner Woods Food Service, the finalists successfully cooked and served a delicious and well-presented range of food including lamb with asparagus and mint, red mullet served with Jerusalem artichoke and a roast bone sauce, and a mushroom and filo tart. The meals were expertly paired with Henners Vineyard wines.

Judge, Tommy Banks said: “It was an absolute pleasure to collaborate with the finalists throughout what was a transformative, week-long learning experience. Witnessing their dedication and creativity during the Fine Dining Challenge was truly inspiring. As they move forward beyond the competition, I have every confidence that they will continue to flourish and make significant contributions to the hospitality industry.”

Katya Simmons, managing director of Nestlé Professional UK&I, said: “Yet again, this year’s Toque d’Or competition has demonstrated just how much young talent there is in hospitality. We enjoyed watching all the participants as they progressed through key stages of the competition and extend our warmest congratulations to those who advanced and competed in Grand Finals Week. It’s no mean feat and they should all be proud to have made it this far, in what is an incredible achievement.

“The essence of this competition lies in our unwavering commitment to fostering the next generation of hospitality professionals, through close collaboration with the industry. It has been truly inspiring to partner with other pioneering businesses on crucial topics such as sustainability and regenerative agriculture, ensuring we set the new standard for emerging talent and a benchmark for success.

“A huge thank you to all who have contributed to making this Grand Finals Week, and indeed the entire Toque d’Or event, a resounding success. And another huge congratulations to this year’s winners Geraldine and Jasmine.”

Geraldine Sierra Torres, BOH Winner said: “This is such a surreal moment for me. Ever since I was a child, I remember cooking with my grandmother in the kitchen at home. She inspired me to pursue my passion for cooking, which has ultimately led me to where I am today. While I’m incredibly proud of my achievement, I think all of the finalists are deserving champions. As a group, we’ve spent so much time together and created some amazing memories. It’s great to have made so many friends. I want to thank everyone involved in making this competition so special; I’ve been able to grow so much both from a personal and professional perspective. I’m going to enjoy this moment first, and then look forward to the prize trip to Switzerland!”

Jasmine Ferdinando, FOH Winner said: ““I know it sounds like a cliche, but when I first entered the competition I never thought I would get this far. I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity, to meet so many amazing people and to develop great friendships along the way. I can’t wait to put the skills and knowledge that I’ve been able to gain over the last few months to the test, as I get ready to start my career. I’d like to thank my college lecturer Suzanne for supporting me and giving me the confidence to really push myself and step out of my comfort zone. Looking ahead, there’s so much to be excited about, but first I want to soak in all the fun and adventure that awaits us in Switzerland!”

This year’s winners, Geraldine and Jasmine, are now set to embark on an extraordinary journey to Switzerland, immersing themselves in Nestlé’s rich heritage and Swiss traditions. This once-in-a-lifetime trip will include visits to the Nestlé headquarters, where both Geraldine and Jasmine will learn more about culinary arts and sustainability in a masterclass with Nestlé Professional global executive chef, Emmanuel Lorieux; experience a hands-on training day with Nestlé Professional’s master barista Christos Sotiros at the Nestlé Beverage Centre in Orbe; receive a special tour of the renowned Nestlé chocolate factory; and visit some of the best food and drink destinations Switzerland has to offer, in what is set to be an unforgettable culinary journey.