‘Students who become adept at Asian cuisine in Britain are the pioneers’
The search for the next Zest Quest Asia champion is on.
Colleges across the UK are invited to enter Zest Quest Asia 2019, the student catering competition that recognises outstanding talent, knowledge and understanding of Asian cuisine.
Founded by Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala in collaboration with the Master Chefs of Great Britain, Zest Quest Asia is now in its sixth year. The competition is open to full-time students with permanent residency status in the UK. Colleges are invited to field teams of three students (plus their tutor) who vie for a first prize consisting of a 7-10 day culinary-infused educational trip to an Asian capital.
Zest Quest Asia was first launched in 2013 to inspire students across the UK to consider Asian cookery as a future career. In so doing, the competition aims to help stem the skills shortage in Asian cuisine threatening the £4 billion Asian food industry, as well as encourage educationists to include classical Asian cookery in the curriculum.
To-date, five colleges and universities have spawned Zest Quest Asia champions: Westminster Kingsway College, Farnborough College, Milton Keynes College, University College Birmingham, and current champions University of West London. Winners have enjoyed trips of a lifetime to Mumbai, Colombo, Bangkok, Tokyo (and Osaka) and Hanoi. Every year, the winning destination is a closely held secret, revealed only at the Gala Dinner and Awards evening held at the Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, following a cook-off and knowledge presentation at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen. This year the competition and awards evening is set for Friday, 8th February 2019.
Cyrus Todiwala said, ‘Zest Quest Asia is an exciting and challenging competition for student chefs who dare to be the best in Asian cuisine. We know that in the six years since we launched, we’ve already made a difference simply by making students and teachers aware of the depth of skills and knowledge that goes into preparing good Asian food.
‘Students who become adept at Asian cuisine in Britain are the pioneers and “disruptors”, choosing something outside the normal comfort zone of classical Western cookery. And they’re helping their careers too, because more than ever palates are yearning for Asian flavours. I strongly urge colleges, big and small, to enter Zest Quest Asia. On top of everything, you will be making a big difference to the student experience.’
Nathan Vasanthan, Lecturer at the London Geller College of Hospitality and Tourism at the University of West London, who accompanied the current Zest Quest Asia champions to Hanoi, Vietnam, said, ‘To my mind, participating and winning Zest Quest Asia is not the end. It is actually the beginning. This competition has created hunger among so many young people at our university to explore Asian cuisine. I already have some students put their names forward for next year. Fingers crossed!’
A number of companies have already pledged to sponsor Zest Quest Asia 2019 including Hilton T5, Koppertcress, Regale Microwaves, Tilda, Bidfood, Cobra Beer, Pere Patriarche, Castelnau, Glengoyne and Robotcoup.
To submit expressions of interest and for details of how to enter Zest Quest Asia 2019, colleges should visit www.zestquestasia.com in the first instance.
The deadline for entries is Friday, 26th October 2018. The shortlist will be revealed in early December, with the final cook off and gala dinner to be held on Friday, 8th February 2018 at the Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5.