Six Colleges Named in the Zest Quest Asia Cook-Off Final

Six colleges will now battle it out for the 2017 Zest Quest Asia crown, having seen off fellow contenders to move on to the finals to be held at the Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 (Hilton T5) in February 2017.

Student teams and their tutors from Colchester Institute, University of Derby, Hackney Community College, Sheffield College, University College Birmingham and University of West London will now have the opportunity to display their skills in in preparing and presenting classical and contemporary Asian cookery during a live cook-off, followed by a ten-minute presentation designed to display their knowledge of food culture, provenance and in key areas such as sustainability.

Zest Quest Asia, now in its fourth year, is the brainchild of Chef Cyrus Todiwala, co-patron with Pervin Todiwala of Café Spice Namaste, in collaboration with the Master Chefs of Great Britain. Together they launched the competition to attract young, aspiring chefs into considering a career in Asian cuisine, an industry which is worth nearly £4 billion and growing. To enter, students have to hold permanent residency in the UK; in this way, Zest Quest Asia is also responding to the tighter immigration controls now threatening the skills base of Asian restaurants and other ethnic food businesses.

The winning team and their tutor can look forward to a culinary expedition to a major Asian food destination. Last year’s champions, Milton Keynes College, spent over a week in Bangkok and previous years’ winners have honed their knowledge of Asian food in India and Sri Lanka. The winners’ destination will be revealed at the Gala Dinner, to be held in February, following the finals that take place in Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen, the signature restaurant of Hilton T5.

Cyrus Todiwala said, “This year we had an extremely high standard of entries, from all over the UK, but we could only choose six to go forward.  The fact that so many colleges entered Zest Quest Asia this year means that we are gaining traction as the student competition for the 21st century, just as people are beginning to realise that Asian food is one of the most viable routes to a career.

“I am thrilled that more and more heads of school and tutors are encouraging students to compete, and impressed by the outstanding quality of many of the entries.  I would urge those who didn’t make the final cut this year not to give up and to definitely go for it again next year.”

Zest Quest Asia has the backing of industry big guns, including headline sponsor Panasonic and gold sponsors Hilton T5, Regal Microwaves, Kerrymaid and Tilda Rice.

Tickets are now available to buy for the Gala Dinner, to be held on Monday, 13th February 2017 at Hilton T5. The multi-course dinner, prepared by a team led by Cyrus Todiwala, will follow a drinks reception, and canapés prepared by last year’s winning team.  Tickets cost £75 per person with tables of 10 priced at £650.  For more information, contact accounts@cafespice.co.uk