Tommy Banks returns to Toque d’Or judging panel as Nestlé Professional open registrations for the 36th edition of competition


Nestlé Professional today opened registrations for the 36th edition of its Toque d’Or competition. College lecturers have until 12th January 2024 to register their Level 2, 3 and 4 back and front of house students.

Award-winning chef and restaurateur, Tommy Banks, will continue in his role as judge providing expert advice and mentorship for Toque d’Or entrants. Students will also be able to take inspiration from Tommy’s passion and knowledge in farm to fork dining and sustainability, which remains the theme for the prestigious competition.

Commenting on his return to the Toque d’Or judging panel, Tommy Banks said: “I’m delighted to be involved in Toque d’Or 2024 after such a competitive and inspiring competition this year! I really enjoyed mentoring this year’s cohort on incredibly important industry topics such as sustainability and provenance. It’s my pleasure once again to help them learn all about sustainable farming and to master the art in crafting sustainably sourced menus.”

Next year’s winners will embark on a once in a lifetime trip to Switzerland, where they will get to delve into Nestlé’s origins and Swiss heritage as they visit the company’s headquarters and the famous Nestlé chocolate factory. As well as getting an unforgettable gastronomic experience – savouring the very best food and drink the country has to offer – the winners will explore Switzerland’s breathtaking landscapes and popular tourist attractions.  

Since its inception in 1989, Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or has worked with more than 150 colleges across the UK, providing opportunities and learning to more than 10,000 hospitality and culinary arts students.

Last year’s front-of-house (FOH) winner Joshua Kerr, who recently returned from a once-in-a-lifetime foodie trip in Brazil, said the competition has given him a huge boost in confidence, both from a personal and professional standpoint. Urging others to step forward and enter the competition, Joshua commented: “I’d recommend the Toque d’Or experience to any budding chef or restaurateur. Not only does it allow you to showcase your knowledge, skill and passion to influential people across the industry, but you also get so much personal growth from the competition in terms of the confidence it gives you and the new people you get to meet. If you want to better yourself and your career prospects, Toque d’Or is the competition for you. All you have to do is reach out to your college lecturer who will express your interest, and then it’s over to you!”

Toque d’Or 2024 takes place over six stages and is aimed at attracting more fresh talent than ever, with entrants competing in their colleges, before being shortlisted for the National Heats which will take place in March at The Grand Cookery School in York, followed by the Grand Finals in April. It is open to all Back and Front of House students on *Levels 2, 3 or 4. Lecturers must register students that meet these criteria. 

Katya Simmons, managing director of Nestlé Professional UK&I, said: “The hospitality industry offers dynamic and rewarding careers; it allows you to constantly learn, grow and meet diverse people; and it’s full of opportunity to make a positive impact on customers and create memorable experiences. Through our prestigious Toque d’Or competition, we are perfectly positioned to help hospitality and culinary arts students bridge the gap between classroom learning and our incredible industry.

“We’re delighted to welcome back Tommy to the judging panel. It goes without saying, his outstanding experience and knowledge of the industry as well as his background in farming and Michelin green star underlines Toque d’Or’s continued theme of sustainability. The 2024 competition is set to be as memorable and inspiring as ever, and we look forward to welcoming and supporting the competitors throughout their journey.”

Over the years, Toque d’Or has attracted high-profile judges including Anton Mosimann OBE, sommelier and wine expert, Raul Diaz, 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.

To register and find out more about the competition’s format and timeline, college lecturers, employers and apprentices should go to:
www.nestleprofessional.co.uk/toque-dor

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