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Tommy Banks Joins Toque d’or® Judging Panel for 35th Anniversary Edition

Nestlé Professional have announced that award-winning chef and restaurateur, Tommy Banks will join the panel of judges for the 35th edition of Toque d’Or. With a wealth of experience in sustainability and farm to fork dining, Banks will bring unique perspective and skills to the six-strong team of industry experts. But with entries closing soon, Back and Front of house students on Level 2, 3 and 4 are being urged to complete their entries now, so they don’t miss the 31st March deadline.

Toque d’Or’s latest judge represents another coup for the prestigious competition. Three-time winner and veteran judge on BBC2’s The Great British Menu, Banks owns two Michelin-starred restaurants in North Yorkshire and a premium food box business and canned wine brand. Born and raised in the small village of Oldstead from a farming background, Banks has been involved in his family farm since his childhood. And as a staunch advocate of farm to fork dining, he has earned a prestigious Michelin green star for his continued pursuit of sustainability. As well as sharing expertise, he’ll welcome this year’s finalists to his sustainable farm, where they’ll learn about farming techniques, and get the chance to forage, harvest fruits and vegetables, and see the livestock.

Banks joins long-term Toque d’Or collaborator, Louisa Ellis who won Masterchef:
The Professionals title in its 2020 Festive Knockout. Educator and well-respected sommelier and wine expert, Raul Diaz, returns for another year on the Toque d’Or judging panel, along with 2021 FOH Toque d’Or winner, Sophie Taylor who has been taken on as chef de partie at the Gleneagles Townhouse since her win. These will sit alongside Nestlé Professional head of training for hot beverages, Ryan Burke, and Nestlé Professional development chef, Justin Clarke, offering competitors a broad array of skills and experience, representing the key areas and disciplines covered in the competition.

Launched in 1989, Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or has played an important role in the hospitality industry, inspiring the next generation of food service professionals and providing up-to-the-minute knowledge on industry trends. Over the years, it has attracted judges, including Anton Mosimann OBE and food writer and influencer, Julie Jones. As a result, the competition has developed a strong network of supporters, judges and competitor-alumni, ranging from James Martin and Jamie Oliver, to Brian Turner, Paul Gayler, James Tanner and Simon Hulstone.

Tommy Banks says,
“Toque d’Or is a unique opportunity for college students to explore different careers and to learn about the latest industry trends. I’m delighted to be involved in this year’s competition, and I’m looking forward to mentoring and meeting the industry’s finest young hospitality talent.”

Katya Simmons, managing director Nestlé Professional UK&I says,
“We’re delighted to welcome Tommy to the Toque d’Or judging panel. He has outstanding experience and knowledge of foodservice and retail – sectors which are converging in many cases, showing the diverse opportunities available in hospitality careers. His farming background and Michelin green star underline Toque d’Or’s continued theme of sustainability, and we’re excited about bringing this knowledge and passion to the table.”

“With Tommy on the judging team alongside such a diverse range of highly talented industry experts, this year’s Toque d’Or is set to be one to remember. But with time running out, students need to be in it to win it, so we’re urging lecturers to extend this learning opportunity to their students, registering budding hospitality superstars before time runs out.”13

To register and find out more about the competition training, format and timeline, college lecturers, employers and apprentices should go to