Tommy Banks (chef)

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Tommy Banks
Born1989 (age 3132)
Oldstead, North Yorkshire, England

Tommy Banks (born 1989) is a British Michelin Star head chef. [1] [2] He owns Michelin-starred The Black Swan at Oldstead, Roots in York, and the premium food box business Made In Oldstead.


Early life

Banks was born and raised in the small North Yorkshire village of Oldstead. He grew up there with his older brother, James, and parents, Tom and Anne Banks.

Banks comes from a farming background, with the Banks family farming in and around Oldstead for five generations. The Banks family also ran a B&B from their family home before buying their local pub, The Black Swan, in 2006.

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 in his parent's pub. Unfortunately, when he was 18 years old, Banks developed ulcerative colitis. He underwent three major operations, and was subsequently 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.


In 2006, when he was 17, Banks's parents bought the pub and restaurant The Black Swan at Oldstead, and he became involved in the running of the business. He worked in the kitchen and started to learn to cook. [3] He had no formal training as chef, but worked several unpaid stages in Michelin-starred restaurants including a week spent in Raymond Blanc's restaurant in Oxfordshire, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons. [4] [5]

The restaurant at The Black Swan first won a Michelin Star in 2012 with Adam Jackson as chef. [6] When Jackson left to set up his own restaurant in June 2013, Banks took over as head chef at The Black Swan. [7] At the age of 24, Banks was the youngest chef to receive a Michelin Star when the restaurant retained its Michelin Star that year. [8] [9]

In 2013 the family developed a three-acre kitchen garden in the field next to the restaurant. Having the garden allowed the Banks to grow food that was unique to them and allowed them to be able to serve ingredients that can not be procured elsewhere; examples being Crapaudine beetroot, Black Truffe potatoes and Wineberries.

On 5 April 2018 Banks's debut cookbook 'Roots' was published by The Orion Publishing Group and it was the UK winner for the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in the Chef category 2018.

On 15 September 2018 Banks and his close friend and business partner Matthew Lockwood opened the Banks's second restaurant, Roots, in the centre of York. The restaurant is a tasting menu format, which also uses produce, grown in the garden and on the farm, which is transported to the city on a daily basis.

In March 2020 Banks and Lockwood launched Made In Oldstead, a premium food box delivery service. This was launched primarily to help pay suppliers and staff unable to be furloughed after the temporary closure of their restaurants due to COVID-19. However, in July 2020, they announced that the food boxes will remain a permanent fixture to the business, delivering three and five-course menus to homes across the UK.


In 2016, Banks took part in Great British Menu . [4] In the final, he won the fish course with a dish entitled 'Preserving The Future'. [10] He also appeared in the programme in 2017 and again won with his fish course of turbot with strawberries and cream. [3]

Banks was co-host of The Big Family Cooking Showdown with Angellica Bell in 2018. He regularly appears on Saturday Kitchen and Sunday Brunch as a guest chef. Since 2019, Banks has been a veteran guest judge for Great British Menu. In 2019 he judged the Northern Ireland heats which was won by Chris McClurg, and in 2020 he judged the London and South East heats, won by Kerth Gumbs.

In 2020, Tommy participated in the Great British Menu Christmas special, winning the petit four course titled 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.'

Awards and Accolades

Banks has achieved great attention and national recognition since he began his career.

In 2013, at the age of twenty-four, he became the youngest Michelin-starred chef in Britain when The Black Swan retained its star.

In 2016, The Black Swan also gained a 4th AA Rosette making it unique at the time as the only restaurant in Yorkshire to hold a Michelin Star and 4 AA Rosettes simultaneously.

In 2017, The Black Swan was named 'The Best Restaurant in the World' by customer review site TripAdvisor.

In 2019, Banks won the 'Local Food Hero' award at the Observer Food Monthly Awards. As well as this, both The Black Swan and Roots were named in Restaurant Magazine's Top 100 Restaurants in the UK (at 29 and 42 respectively). In Waitrose's prestigious Good Food Guide, The Black Swan was also Yorkshire's highest-ranked restaurant in their Top 50 list.

In 2020, Roots received the Taste of York awards at the Visit York Tourism Awards. The Black Swan also received the accolade of the UK's Best Fine Dining Restaurant in TripAdvisor's prestigious travel awards.

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  1. "Chef Tommy among the culinary elite – aged just 24". Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  2. "The Black Swan: Michelin-starred restaurant is really worth a detour". 18 November 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  3. 1 2 Bryant, Amy (12 October 2017). "Inside Tommy Banks' The Black Swan, voted best in the world by Tripadvisor". The Daily Telegraph.
  4. 1 2 "Great British Menu: Tommy Banks". BBC.
  5. "Chef Tommy among the culinary elite – aged just 24". Yorkshire Post. 10 March 2014.
  6. Freeman, Sarah (29 March 2015). "So, how DO you run a Michelin star restaurant?". The Yorkshire Post.
  7. Gerrard, Neil (23 June 2013). "Adam Jackson leaves Black Swan at Oldstead". The Caterer.
  8. Shingler, Tom (23 May 2017). "Tommy Banks: north Yorkshire's shining star". Great British Chefs.
  9. Love, Laura (20 February 2017). "Young North Yorkshire chef named in prestigious foodie magazine's 'favourite things' list". Gazette Live.
  10. Love, Laura (8 October 2016). "Tommy Banks: North Yorkshire chef wins chance to cook at Great British Menu banquet". Gazette Live.