Since taking out the top spot as part of the winning team in the 2018 Nestlé Toque d’Or competition, Chahna Davis has been swept up by a whirlwind of opportunity and success. Shortly after her Ara Institute of Canterbury team walked away triumphant with the Supreme Award, Davis began working at Christchurch’s top restaurant Chillingworth Road.
Run by influential chef Darren Wright, she was able to work alongside many experienced people who acted as mentors helping her to expand the range and standard of dishes she could produce.
“I learned a lot more about service and it was a fantastic insight into the industry. It was definitely a very valuable experience.”
After completing work experience at Chillingworth Road, Davis was presented with a ‘once in a lifetime offer’ to work at the legendary Mosimann’s Private Members Club in London – an opportunity which came about after meeting Anton Mosimann when he was judging the 2018 Nestle Toque d’Or competition.”
After making her way to London, Davis was quickly immersed in the working culture of Mosimann’s.
“We work very long hours, have a lot of functions to cater for and split shifts to deal with. However, I expected nothing less and am working with an amazingly talented team of people. His Passionfruit Souffle and Bread and Butter Pudding are hugely popular, and it’s great to be able to help design and create them with the pastry team.”
Mosimann’s comprises a main kitchen plus larder and small pastry kitchens. Approximately eight chefs are onsite working throughout the day.
While in London, Davis hopes to continue to increase here skills level and may even look to gain further international experience by working at fine dining establishments in other locations like Singapore. Despite finding international success, Davis still finds time to keep in contact with her teammates.
“I’m so proud of what everyone has achieved. Even though it’s harder to keep in contact due to me being overseas I still do, and we will always share that connection by having been in the Nestlé Toque d’Or competition. Since being in the competition, I’ve learnt how to cook more than just pastries, gained valuable knife skills and overall am working towards being the best chef I can possibly be.
“I loved every minute of my time in the competition and I will take lessons learned from it into my professional career. The feedback and feeling of elation upon being announced as the winners was a moment I will never forget.”
Davis says the most challenging part of the competition was the planning stage.
“Allocating time to train for the competition in amongst other work and home commitments, is incredibly challenging for many young chefs.”
She says the competition also gave her the opportunity to work under the supervision of “top notch” mentors and pushed her to the limits, due to the time constraints, forcing her to adapt and think on the fly.
Her advice to other competitors is to listen and learn from their mentors and be prepared to put in a lot of hard work.
“Nestlé Toque d’Or is a fantastic event to work towards and will most definitely provide you with skills and opportunities that can open up career paths in the industry. I came out on the other side with a newly acquired skillset and an amazing job which I love and am incredibly grateful for that. Don’t hesitate – just go for it!”