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The Corporation

Posted: 24/01/22

Coffee and culture as students aim for national competitions

Hospitality and supervision students at West Nottinghamshire College have been perfecting their drinks-making skills as they compete in the local heats of a national competition next week.

  • Harry Rayment with his warming, Norwegian inspired drink
  • Brooke Purdie was drawn to the spices of Jamaica for her coffee
  • Principal Andrew Cropley judging Brooke Purdie's Jamaican coffee creation
  • Aeron Buxton chose a cool, iced, filtered Japanese coffee
  • Annabelle Pye's mediterranean creation brought the elegance of Italy to the table
  • Lewis Finch went all out on his Irish themed coffee and table lay out
  • Sights and flavours of the Orient were thought out well in Clara Betts' Chinese coffee
  • Kai Blandy's table and coffee had all the vibes of South Africa

Students on the Advanced Diploma in Hospitality Supervision and Leadership and the Level 2 Food and Beverage Service programme have been selected by tutors to take their creativity to the next level to represent the college in a highly-prestigious catering competition designed for chefs, front of house students and apprentices across the country.

Having dedicated a day after the Christmas break to practicing for the competition, with principal and chief executive Andrew Cropley as one of the judges, tutors are now confident for seven of the class to perform an in-house challenge on Monday 7 February, ready to take on this year’s Nestlé Professional Toque D’Or challenge.

This will see the students put together a hot or iced coffee drink of their choice for judges. The judging team will be made up of members of the college’s executive team and Philip Trease, managing director of Weavers wine merchants in Nottingham.

Competition rules state that the drink must be inspired by a country of their choice and the table must be laid up in that country’s style and culture and done on a budget of £5. Another part of the challenge asks students to look at the theme of sustainable futures.

Competitors must cover elements such as nutrition, health, food waste and seasonality and research how their country of choice implements these points and feedback their research to judges. Judges will mark their work on taste, texture, presentation, story behind their table theme, accuracy, hygiene and overall impression.

Last year the college saw a mix of trainee chefs and hospitality and supervision students put through to the heats of the Toque D’Or challenge with a multitude of vegan-based food and drink creations.

This year, students Harry Rayment, Kai Blandy, Clara Betts, Annabelle Pye, Brooke Purdie, Lewis Finch and Aeron Buxton are the selected students who will be undertaking the challenge on 7 February.

Clara Betts, 18, from Mansfield is one of the competitors. She said: “Originally I created a Chinese-themed iced oat milk coffee with a shot of vanilla syrup and rosewater. On top I used a violet cooled milk froth and decorated with flowers. I may look at a different country in the forthcoming competition but it will be oriental.

“The practice session has been helpful in the lead up to February’s challenge as it’s allowed me to think of areas where I can improve my sustainability research side of things and I will be making my table larger and use more decoration to represent the country.”

Tutor Joanne Wilson said: “During the practice session the other week, we were really impressed by the students’ novel ideas with their coffee drinks. There was such attention to detail in how the drinks looked and tasted and our judges were suitable impressed.

“Their table designs were eye-catching and creative and brought both fun and cultural awareness to the competition, and a lot of thought went into each country’s approach to sustainability. I have every confidence in this group and would be delighted to see someone go through to the heats in March.”

Successful competitors will next be asked to recreate their drink in a short video which will be judged by Toque D’Or representatives, who will then decide who goes through to the heats. Students must speak about their passion of the hospitality industry on the video, as well as what it means to take part in Toque D’Or 2022.

Another requirement of the competition is that each competitor must follow the Toque D’Or Instagram account, for tips on how to best lay-up a table and prepare a coffee drink. Students must upload two photographs of their task and tag @nestletoquedor and use the hash tag #toquedor2022.

The heats will take place over five days in late March at Nestle’s head office at Gatwick, near London. Following the Grand Finals two front of house and two back of house winners will be announced at the awards ceremony and invited on the Toque d’Or 2022 winners’ trip. This includes a gastronomic weekend in Dubai and attend the Worldchefs Congress & Expo 2022 in Abu Dhabi.