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Cyrus Todiwala launches Zest Quest Asia 2022

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The student culinary competition is back in its original form

Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL FIH, Co-founder and judge of Zest Quest Asia

(London, 23rd November 2021) After a two-year gap filled by three successful on-line spin-offs, Zest Quest Asia is returning in its original format, with colleges and student chefs invited to submit their entries to Zest Quest Asia 2022.  

Founded by restaurateurs Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala of Café Spice Namaste with the involvement of Master Chefs of Great Britain, the culinary competition recognises outstanding knowledge and understanding of Asian cuisine, and the talent and skill to design and execute an impressive menu of Asian dishes. Since its launch in 2013, Zest Quest Asia has been widely credited with raising awareness and interest in Asian flavours, cooking styles and techniques among a new generation of college-trained chefs, in some cases inspiring former contestants to seek careers in Asian cuisine. College lecturers are encouraged to get involved, by helping to motivate and mentor students who may be preparing classically influenced Asian cuisine for the first time.

Zest Quest Asia also aims to help stem the skills shortage in Asian cuisine threatening the billion-pound Asian food industry, as well as encourage educators to include classical Asian cookery in the curriculum.

Zest Quest Asia 2020 champions from University College Birmingham

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 to 10-day cultural tour of an Asian culinary capital. Students from University College Birmingham were crowned Zest Quest Asia champions in 2020 and will be embarking on a belated prize trip to Bangkok. Other colleges to produce Zest Quest Asia winners before the coronavirus pandemic put a temporary halt to live events were Westminster Kingsway College, Farnborough College, Milton Keynes College, University College Birmingham, and University of West London. Among the cities visited by the winning teams (accompanied by their tutor) were Mumbai, Colombo, Manila, Tokyo, Osaka, Hanoi and Bangkok.

The next winning destination is a closely held secret, to be revealed only at a dinner and awards evening, following a live cook-off and knowledge presentation. This year the competition and awards evening are set to take place Friday, 18th February 2022.

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Cyrus Todiwala said, “It’s great to be able to launch Zest Quest Asia in its traditional form, as a live event followed by a dinner which we hope will be widely attended by everyone who has a stake in the growth of Asian cuisine in this country. Thanks to great supporters like Tilda and Panasonic, we were able to pivot to an on-line version of Zest Quest Asia which served students well during the lockdowns.

“But we’re back where we should be, and my aim now is for Zest Quest Asia to continue to give opportunities and experiences to student chefs through the pursuit of excellence in Asian cuisine. I hope to see many entries this year from talented and ambitious students. Superb prizes await!”

Zest Quest Asia

A number of companies have already pledged to sponsor Zest Quest Asia 2022 including Tilda, Don Papa Rum, Gonzales Byass, IanMacleod Distillers, Bidfood, Meiko, and Cobra Beer. Also pledging their support are Oliver Harvey and Cheffi.

To submit expressions of interest and for details on how to enter Zest Quest Asia 2022 colleges should visit www.zestquestasia.org or contact Cora Strachan at [email protected] in the first instance.  

The deadline for entries is Monday, 24th January 2022.  The shortlist will be revealed on Monday, 31st January 2022, with the final cook off and awards dinner to be held on Friday, 18th February 2022 at the Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5.

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