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Toque d'Or.jpgCongratulations to the team of young chefs from North Devon College, which last Friday won the 2009 Nestlé Toque d’Or awards.

Event organisers celebrated the competition’s 21st anniversary in true style with a lavish bash at the O2 Arena attended by industry movers and shakers as well as by parents and friends of members of the five college teams that had reached the grand final.

Over the years, some 5000 students have entered the Toque d’Or competition, in which teams create a restaurant concept, set up their themed restaurant at a live event and serve a three-course lunch to 100 paying guests.

This year’s event, which was again hosted by TV presenter, Mark Durdon-Smith, featured a Dragon’s Den-style line-up of judges quizzing finalists onstage about burnt tuiles, early mornings and menus delivered by a rapper. Under cross-examination, one team told judges how it had had a problem with fish that took too long to defrost. “We’re not used to such good fridges”, one team-member admitted.

Meanwhile, the maitr’ d of another team paid tribute to her fellow team-members for coping after she got sick and had to drop out of service. “Was that after tasting your own meal?” asked the ever-cheeky Durdon-Smith.

As the team from North Devon College celebrated wildly, Durdon-Smith asked one of them which of their prizes they were more excited by: VIP tickets to see Beyonce at the O2, or a stage in Anton Mosimann’s kitchens. “His kitchen”, she said shyly, pointing at the bow-tied maestro who had handed her the trophy only a moment before. Correct answer.