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16th April 2024

Chef Tommy Banks shares top tips ahead of Toque d’Or Grand Finals

Written by: Edward Waddell
There are just days to go until the Grand Finals of Nestlé Professional’s Toque d’Or competition. Chef and judge Tommy Banks has offered last-minute advice for the 12 budding chefs and restaurateurs competing for the prize.

The Finals will comprise a series of challenges built around the competition’s overarching theme of sustainability, covering topics such as locally sourced produce, regenerative agriculture and how hospitality plays an important role in supporting communities.

The Grand Finals will take place from 21-25th April 2024, with the winners announced during the Awards lunch on Friday 7th June 2024.

Competitors will get the opportunity to hone their skills while exploring the latest culinary trends and learning about farm-to-fork dining. Tommy shares his five top tips to help them excel under pressure and make the most of the transformative, week-long experience: 

Stay organised and focused: First and foremost it’s all about maintaining your composure. And nothing helps more than staying organised and focused on the job at hand. Remember to stick to your usual methods and stay disciplined, while always taking a moment to think through your approach. This time you invest will pay off in your work.

Soak up the experience: Toque d’Or opens doors to extraordinary experiences and expert mentoring. Whether you win or not, there will be so many learnings that help you come out of this experience stronger. And you will gain so much experience, that I can promise, so it’s a ‘win-win’ situation.

Demonstrate your passion and determination: It’s what stands you out from the crowd. And in our dynamic industry, a good work ethic and a positive attitude really does make a huge difference. But don’t ever forget to be your true authentic self – your personality is what makes you unique and it’s what sets great chefs and restaurateurs apart. 

Embrace the networking opportunities: While you might have to step outside of your comfort zone, the competition offers fantastic opportunities to meet new people. This is a rare opportunity, so seize it by networking with your fellow contestants and judges. You never know, these connections can become invaluable as you advance in your career. 

Enjoy and take care of yourself: Most importantly, enjoy yourself. Although finals week will be nerve-wracking, especially the Fine Dining Challenge, the experience of doing a good job and putting smiles onto people’s faces makes you feel great. That’s what is unique about hospitality – so don’t forget that and be present in those moments. It’s also just as much about self-care. So prepare as much as you can to ease the nerves and ensure you get plenty of rest and sleep in-between the challenges. It can work wonders for performance.