Tommy Banks is a multi-award-winning chef, and one of the UK’s most exciting and innovative restaurateurs, growing his menu in North Yorkshire where he owns two Michelin-starred restaurants, a premium food box business and canned wine brand.
Banks was born and raised in the small village of Oldstead in North Yorkshire with his brother James, and parents Anne and Tom.
Coming from a farming background, the Banks family have been farming in and around Oldstead for five generations. As well as this, the family ran a B&B from their home for local walkers.
In 2006, they took the plunge and purchased their run-down local pub, adding a food menu to turn it into a thriving pub in a popular area of the North York Moors.
Cooking and the hospitality industry was never at the forefront of Bank's mind when he was younger. His ambition was to play cricket professionally, leaving school during his A Levels to play the sport six days a week, alongside working behind the bar at The Black Swan.
Unfortunately, when he was 18 years old, Banks developed ulcerative colitis, undergoing three major operations, and subsequently making him bedridden for 18 months. It was during this time that he began reading a lot of cookbooks and watching cookery programmes, giving him a newfound passion for food, returning to work more determined and grounded.
After this, he began working in the kitchen and started to learn to cook despite having no formal training as chef. The restaurant received its first Michelin-star in 2012, and in 2013 when Tommy took over as Head Chef, he retained the star, making him the youngest-ever chef to receive the award at the age of 24.
In the same year, the family developed a three-acre kitchen garden in the field next to their restaurant, allowing them to grow food that was unique to them and allowed them to serve ingredients that couldn’t be procured anywhere else.
In 2016 Banks took part in the BBC’s Great British Menu for the first time, winning the fish course with a dish entitled ‘Preserving the Future.’ He appeared again the following year and again won with his fish course of turbot, strawberries, and cream.
In 2018 Banks was the co-host of The Big Family Cooking Showdown with Angelica Bell, and since 2019 he has also been a veteran guest judge for Great British Menu.
In 2018, Banks’ debut cookbook Roots was published and was the UK winner in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
Later that year, Tommy opened his second restaurant, Roots, in York city centre with close friend and business partner Matthew Lockwood. The restaurant won its first Michelin-star only a year and a half later.
In March 2020 they launched Made In Oldstead, a premium food box delivery service during lockdown, making the boxes a permanent part of the business. In 2021, they expanded this area with the launch of their own range of canned wines.
In 2020, Tommy participated in a Christmas special of Great British Menu alongside other veteran judges winning the petit-four course titled, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.’
Fast-forward almost a decade, and alongside overseeing his Yorkshire ventures, Tommy also has a chef residency at Lord’s Cricket Ground.