First it was the colourful food metropolises of Bombay and Delhi. Next it was bustling Colombo, Sri Lanka’s cosmopolitan gourmet capital. Where will the worthy winners of the third Zest Quest Asia competition be headed, we wonder?
Founder Cyrus Todiwala OBE and the Master Chefs of Great Britain are keeping mum, but hint that there is everything to play for when college students and their tutors take part in Zest Quest Asia, now open for entries.
The competition gives recognition to full-time students with permanent British residency status who can demonstrate exemplary knowledge and understanding of Asian cuisine including its provenance and sustainability, as well as a keen ability to design and prepare authentic Asian dishes, using authentic ingredients and techniques.
The competition, launched in 2013, saw a team from Westminster Kingsway College win the first series while last year’s winners from Farnborough College have only just returned from ten days in Colombo where they were hosted by Hilton Colombo and toured a tea estate.
The number of entries has increased year on year, with a record 18 entries received in 2014. Cyrus Todiwala said, “Every year the standard of entries has gone up, and I sense that there is a real excitement around the competition, which I know is quite rigorous. However, we have purposely designed it that way because Asian cuisine can be complex and challenging. “But as there is a real shortage of chefs in Britain with the skills to cook authentic Asian cuisine, whoever can demonstrate this skill is almost guaranteed a good future. Just look at the number of Asian restaurants popping up all over the world, and in Britain alone, the Asian food industry is worth almost £3bn. It is relevant. And the number and calibre of companies that have sponsored Zest Quest Asia every year is further testament to just how important this industry is.”
Cyrus isn’t saying the exact location of the next grand prize, but he guarantees it will be a little warmer than Britain! Closing date for entries is 6th November 2015 and paper judging will take place during the week commencing 16th November 2015. The cook-off for the six finalists will again be held at the Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 5 on Monday 15th February 2016, followed by a Gala Dinner where the winners will be announced.
• Last year’s judges were Andrew Bennett, Food & Beverage Director of The Park Lane Hotel, Clive Roberts, Chairman of Master Chefs of Great Britain, Cyrus & Pervin Todiwala, Wyn Ma, Executive Chef of Green Papaya and Murray Chapman, founder of Passion to Inspire
• Entry forms for the 2016 competition can be requested from www.zestquestasia.com