Welcome to the Toque d’Or Community where you’ll find information about our judges, alumni, competitors and much more.
Meet the judges
We’re thrilled to introduce our judges for our Toque d’Or competition.
Raul Diaz started his sommelier career in 2004. Soon after, he gained a vast experience in hospitality while working onboard cruise lines, luxury hotels and Michelin starred restaurants. He became a WSET certified educator in 2012 following a real passion for teaching. He has trained more than 5000 students over the years.
Raul is a TV wine presenter for Sunday Brunch, Channel 4 in the UK. He often participates in wine panels for Harper's and the Drinks Business.
He hosts Masterclasses for Taste of London, Imbibe Live, London Wine Fair, Wines of Chile, Wines of Spain and SITT tasting. In 2016, Raul became a VDP Ambassador for German wines in the UK. In 2018, he received the Rioja Communicator of the Year award from his constant support to the promotion of Rioja wines. Since 2019, he has been a wine collaborator for the food and drinks magazine Foodism UK, Square Up media. His breakthrough book Wines & Recipes has just been named ‘Best in the World for Wine Education in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2021’.
Raul was a judge for Toque d’Or Grand Finals in 2018 and 2019, delivering the WSET Level 1 Award in Wine course to all finalists. The WSET provides best-in-class education and qualification to inspire & empower the world’s wine and spirt professionals & enthusiasts. For more information visit https://wine-training.squarespace.com/raul-diaz-wine-sommelier
Once Louisa had left culinary college, she found herself in the kitchens of multi rosette hotels and restaurants, constantly looking for ways to develop her skill and learn to become a better chef.
Always exploring new flavours and techniques, she quickly found herself working in a Michelin starred restaurant and from there, never looked back.
Progressively, her food became more refined and she decided to take on MasterChef: The Professionals (now available on Netflix) landing herself in the final three competitors. In December 2020, she made the biggest decision of her career and returned to the MasterChef kitchen to put her skills to the test for the second time. This time she walked away as the winner which she states is one of her biggest achievement to date.
Since MasterChef: The Professionals aired she has delivered tasting menus at events throughout the country, held restaurant take overs and has been fortunate enough to work in some incredible 2 & 3 Michelin starred restaurants.
Today, she is a private chef based in Nottingham. She designs an array of new menus every month for customers to enjoy at dinner parties. Her passion for flavour and unique combinations is shown in her ever-evolving menus. Due to Covid-19, she has had to adapt her business into a heat at home delivery service which is going down a treat with the local community as it gives everyone something to look forward to at the end of the week!
For more information, visit http://www.cheflouisaellis.com
What previous judges had to say:
“I won this wonderful competition in 1974 and thanks to this first gold medal I got a job offer at the Dorchester 12 months later. I took over 172 chefs in the kitchen, I was only 28 and it was a fantastic experience. So thank you to Nestlé and thanks to Toque d’Or® I’m here today.”
“The industry more than ever needs young, hungry talent and this competition grabs that, embraces it and puts it out there. I think that’s a wonderful thing and we really need to keep nurturing this.”
“Toque d’Or is such a great foundation for these chefs to build on for their career. The skills they’ll develop during the competition will stay with them throughout their journey and be something to draw on in interviews, work and beyond.”
Find out more from the contestants
Of course, we think Toque d’Or is a fantastic opportunity but don’t take our word for it…
“For anyone thinking of entering next year’s competition, my advice would be to do it! You learn so many new skills and ideas, as well as grow in confidence throughout the whole experience.”
“The toque for 2020 competition tested a different range of skill. As well as testing our culinary skills, in order to run a successful business, it’s vital to be able to present and produce a business plan, so this was a great way to test the competitors! I found it really helpful and an amazing set of skills that will be very useful when I hopefully open my own restaurant! I would 100% encourage anyone who is able to… the people you meet and the experiences throughout the competition are ones not to be missed!“
“Thank you so much for having a competition like this, and providing young people with such great opportunities and experiences throughout.”
“It gives me the confidence to go back in the kitchen and think I am worth what I’m doing. I can make a stand; I can make a difference as a chef.”
“If there was somebody wanting to enter Toque d’Or I would say to them absolutely go for it. It’s fantastic, you’re going to have the most incredible experience from start to finish, whether you get all the way through or only a part of it.”
“It’s the first time I’ve ever done any competition so to come here, have such an amazing experience, meet some really good people, enjoy myself and then win at the end? It’s like I’ve won twice.”
“You learn a lot about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, where you can improve and how you come across to other people. I’d love to win but it is about the experience and having fun!”
“Toque d’Or is different to every other competition and so different from college. Here you are in at the deep end, working with real customers, in a real kitchen and the pressure is immense. It has given us a stepping stone to our future with contacts, connections and experience.”