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Apprentice Drew Dawson Crowned Winner of Toque d’Or® 2019

Posted on 25 June, 2019

Chef Apprentice Winner Drew Dawson

Last week, the winner of the 2019 Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or® competition was revealed as chef apprentice, Drew Dawson. Drew, aged 23, had reason for double celebration as in the same week he also received a Distinction – the highest mark – in his Commis Chef apprenticeship, which he completed at The NED London, part of the Soho House Group.

Now in its 31st year, Toque d’Or® is one of the UK’s most influential industry competitions, bridging the gap between the theories of the classroom, work-based learning and the exciting reality of the industry. Drew competed against the 400 applications to this year’s contest and was ultimately crowned the winner after a four-day grand finale. The four rounds of the final included:

  • WSET Level One training (and exam) at English vineyard Denbies followed by wine tasting and a tour of the vineyards and wine cellars
  • Fast-paced shifts under the watchful eye of chef James Tanner at unique dining and drinking venue, Smiths of Smithfield
  • Recreating and serving a three-course fine dining sustainable menu developed by Simon Hulstone at the luxurious Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel
  • Harvesting vegetables before creating a sustainable vegetarian dish at Watts Farm in Dartford

Speaking at the award ceremony, Drew said: “I’m absolutely over the moon! It’s an experience of a lifetime and I’m so lucky to have been given this opportunity.

“Competitions like this show just how supportive the industry is, giving young people the opportunity to do great things. I think the best part of the competition was meeting the farmers and really understanding the supply chain and how everything fits together.”

Commenting on Drew’s fantastic achievements, Jill Whittaker, Managing Director of HIT Training, said: “The team at HIT and I are beyond thrilled for Drew, not only has he competed at and won one of the sector’s most prestigious and tough competitions, but he has also been awarded a Distinction in his Commis Chef apprenticeship.

“At HIT, we develop apprenticeship programmes designed to provide learners with a wide breadth of skills and experience that not only helps them in their current roles but provides them with the knowledge and expertise to build a successful career in the hospitality industry. It’s an honour to see apprentices like Drew go on to achieve great things and it really highlights the value in high-quality training.”

The theme of the 2019 Toque d’Or® competition is Sustainable Futures, which aimed to raise awareness of the future of the foodservice industry and covered menu, operational and career sustainability.

For more information on HIT Training’s Chef Academy, click here.


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McMullen’s chose HIT as its sole external provider for Apprenticeships and vocational qualifications in early 2015 and since then we have found them a pleasure to work with.  Their expertise in this sector is superior and they have proven to be a professional and supportive partner who have a passion for learning and development, which matches our own organisation.

Amanda Walden – Training & Recruitment Manager, McMullen's

Encouraging our staff to improve their skills set and supporting them through apprenticeships and training programmes underlines our commitment to help them further develop their own careers. Offering the Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship also gives the Brend Group a point of difference which I’m convinced will help attract new members of staff in the future.

Andrew Mosedale - Group HR Manager, Brend Hotels

Our partnership with HIT has certainly made recruitment much easier in a very difficult labour market and gives us a point of difference in an increasingly competitive environment.  Kew Green has also benefited enormously from well trained, skilled and competent staff who contribute significantly to the ever improving and high levels of customer experience that our guests expect and deserve.

Andrew Tregenza - HR Business Partner, Kew Green Hotels

Apprenticeships allow us to give people a great opportunity to develop a career with us and learn a skill or trade that will accompany them throughout their career and life. We see progression to the Level 4 qualification as key to our strategy of providing development at all stages of an employee’s career with Harrison.

Alex Taylor - Training Manager, Harrison Catering Services

There is a shortage of skilled chefs within in our industry at present and any organisation that truly believes in the value of training and development of bright future stars will enable themselves to be in a strong position for the years ahead. Investing in smart training and development is at the heart of what we do within WSH, so it has been refreshing to work alongside HIT within our Baxterstorey Chef Academy. 

Rik Razza - Head of Chef Development, BaxterStorey

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