Welcome to the Toque d’Or Community where you’ll find information about our judges, alumni, competitors and much more.

2020 Highlights

Meet the judges

We’re thrilled to introduce our judges for the 2021 Toque d’Or competition.

Alison Taffs

Alison has been a resident judge and tutor for Toque d’Or since 2017. Deeply passionate about hospitality and particularly drinks education, her mission is to help people to be more confident in their own hospitality mindset.

Alison has worked in hospitality for over 20 years. Starting as a waiter, she worked her way into the Pizza Express management team and ran their openings team during the expansion in the late 90’s, then moved into a role as a UK and International Training Manager. She has held HR Director roles in multi-branded national groups, private restaurants and contract catering, and now works for herself as a People Development consultant, coach and trainer. For more information, visit http://www.thegrapesociety.co.uk/

Louisa Ellis

 

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.”

Anton Mosimann OBE, DL

“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.”

James Tanner, Chef and Proprietor, The Kentish Hare

“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.”

Adam Bateman, Group Operations and Development Chef, InterContinental Hotel Group

 

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.”

Alex Dick, Front of House student winner 2020

“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!“

Lily Stock, Back of House student winner 2020

“Thank you so much for having a competition like this, and providing young people with such great opportunities and experiences throughout.”

Faiha Ahmed, University College Birmingham, 2019 College Winner

“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.”

Drew Dawson, The Ned, 2019 Apprentice Winner

“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.”

Yasmine Selwood, University College Birmingham, 2019 College Winner

“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.”

Alan Martin, City of Glasgow College College Competition Winner 2018

“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!”

Rebecca Baxter, University of Derby College Competition Finalist 2018

“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.”

Megan Lyke, University College Birmingham, College Winners 2016