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Zest Quest Asia announces finalists

Zest Quest Asia announces finalists

Six colleges have hurdled the first round of judging of Zest Quest Asia, the competition founded by Chef Cyrus Todiwala, Chef Patron of Café Spice Namaste and organised in association with the Master Chefs of Great Britain.

Zest Quest Asia aims to recognise the British catering students (or students with British residency permits) who can best demonstrate their knowledge and skill of Asian cookery and cuisine.

Teams from Doncaster College, Milton Keynes College, University of West London, Westminster Kingsway College and University College Birmingham will join defending champions Farnborough College in a final cook-off to be held at Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen, the signature restaurant of Hilton London Heathrow T5, on 15th February.  The finals will be followed by a Gala Dinner at Hilton T5, when the winners will be announced.

In order to go through to the final round, the entries had to demonstrate to the judges how the student teams would produce and cost a four-course meal based on authentic Asian cuisine, including the food traditions of Malaysia, Indonesia, India and Sub-continent, the Philippines, Japan, China and Vietnam, with the main ingredient being an example of British produce. 

Cyrus Todiwala said, “There was real skill and talent that shone through in the quality of some of the entries, and it was a tough decision. I look forward to the final cook off at Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen.

“The judges, including our Chairman of the Jury, Chef Andrew Bennett MBE, Executive Chef and Food and Beverage Director of the Sheraton Park Lane, will expect finalists to show that not only can they cook, but that they also understand the what, where, why, when and how behind their dishes. I’m particularly keen to have the sustainability element brought to the fore during their presentations and also the ability to demonstrate an understanding of the true origins of the cuisine. I want to see some soul in their cooking, because at the core of every Asian is the love for food and a respect for the ritual of cooking.”

Clive Roberts, Chairman of Master Chefs of Great Britain concurs: “Going forward, we want finalists to be prepared to show us that they get what Asian cooking is about.  I urge them to do their research and if they can, not hold back in using classical Asian techniques.  It will serve them well in the future, even after the competition is over.”

Tickets to the Gala Dinner are now on sale, priced at £75pp or £650 for tables of ten and are available by emailing The cost includes a drinks reception and four-course dinner cooked by Cyrus and his team.

The winner of the competition will enjoy a 10-day culinary journey to an Asian gastronomic capital, to be revealed on the night.

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