Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or has announced two judges for the heats of the 2021 competition: MasterChef winner Louisa Ellis (pictured) and educator and drinks expert, Alison Taffs. Both judges will lend their expertise to a cohort of up to 320 youngsters throughout the heats when the competition kicks off in March.
Having started in Barnfield College in Luton, Ellis has worked for some the country’s top restaurants including Adams in Birmingham and Sat Bains. She’s appeared twice on MasterChef: The Professionals, the first time she was in the final and the second time in 2020 she won.
Alison Taffs has been a judge at Toque d’Or since 2017 and brings with her over 20 years of experience in hospitality. She has a deep passion for both hospitality and drinks education, encouraging professionals to grow their drinks repertoire.
Ellis said, 'I'm very excited to be judging this year's Nestle Toque d'Or. I strongly believe this competition is vital for the future of our industry. Just competing in this competition will allow the students to step out of their comfort zone and develop further on skills and flair.
'I wish that I had this opportunity when I was younger and I'm humbled to now get the opportunity to be a part of it.'
Taffs commented, “I am delighted to be Head Judge for the 2021 Front Of House Toque d’Or competition. The urgency of the industry needing to develop and encourage newcomers and train now for the future after the pandemic, makes Toque d’Or feel more relevant than ever.”
Katya Simmons, managing director of Nestlé Professional UK&I, said, “We’re thrilled to announce the first two judges in our competition line-up. Louisa’s determination and passion for creating new flavour combinations, as well as her experience working amongst some of the great in the industry makes her the ideal chef judge for the heats.
“On a mission to help people to be more confident in their own hospitality mindset, Alison’s knowledge, excitement and continued passion for the hospitality industry is second to none so we couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome her back to the judging panel in 2021.”
This year the competition is more inclusive than ever, open to students, apprentices and wider aspiring professionals including commis chefs, waiters and equivalent.
Due to the continued lockdown, registrations will now officially open on 23 February and close on 16 March. As their entry task, entrants will be sent links to reading material on sustainability and nutrition and they will need to undertake a virtual assessment in the form of multiple-choice questions on 18 March from 8am until 23:59.
Competitors will also need to complete a 1-minute selfie style video explaining why they are passionate about hospitality and why they should be in 2021 Toque d’Or.