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14th April 2022

The Sheffield College wins Zest Quest Asia 2022 competition

Written by: Edward Waddell
Three student chefs from The Sheffield College have been crowned the Zest Quest Asia 2022 champions at a gala dinner and awards night held on 8 April at the Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5.

Culinary students Jack Hayes, Max Heath and Rhiannon Siddal along with their tutor Andrew Gabbitas have won an ‘educational trip of a lifetime’ to Manila and the province of Negros Occidental (popularly known as ‘Sugarlandia’) in the Philippines.

The prize, sponsored by Don Papa Rum, will enable the team to discover first-hand the sights, smells and tastes of traditional Filipino cuisine, and participate in a range of activities including culinary master classes and a charity dinner.

The winning team stood out for its Vietnamese-inspired menu comprised of a Goi cuon amuse bouche, a summer roll made from homemade turmeric rice rolls, filled with watermelon, seasoned with lime, salt and sriracha seasoning, beansprouts, and toasted cashews.

The trio created a Bahn Khot starter, crispy pancake made with toasted jasmine rice, basmati rice flour, turmeric, puffed wild rice, seasoned with sriracha; a Bun Cha main course, caramelised seiten balls with basmati rice noodles, pickled vegetables, and a dessert of Vietnamese Vanilla Sponge, soaked in rum syrup with Vietnamese coffee ice cream and rum-macerated pineapple.

The 2022 Zest Quest Asia competition marked the long-awaited return of the live cook-off and ‘in person’ awards evening after a pandemic-induced two-year gap, which the organisers filled with three successful on-line spinoffs.

Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL FIH said, “I am so proud of the fact that our Zest Quest Asia competitors were performing like true professionals, with the attitude and mindset of winners. Their menus were exceptional, and the judges and I were taken aback by the scale of their ambition, with one college even offering a menu tracing the length of the Silk Road.

“But despite the tightness of the competition, there could only be one overall winner, and The Sheffield College inspired our imaginations and taste buds with a brilliantly executed menu that captured the cooking techniques and tastes of Vietnam.

“We are deeply grateful to our sponsors and supporters, many of whom have worked closely with the students and colleges to ensure they could incorporate the latest industry trends in ingredients, flavours and technology. And having experienced the Philippines myself, I cannot begin to describe the exciting world that awaits our winners in Don Papa Rum’s ‘Sugarlandia’! Congratulations to the worthy winners.”

In addition to being named the new Zest Quest Asia champions, The Sheffield College team also won the Tilda Special Award for the Best Use of Rice, which will take them on another exclusive trip, this time to Northern Italy.

Other Zest Quest Asia 2022 winners:

  • The Andrew Bennett MBE Award for Best Teamwork – Loughborough College
  • Best Use of Microwave – Colchester Institute
  • Best Wine Pairing – North Hertfordshire College
  • Best Use of Rum – Westminster Kingsway College
  • Best Use of British Produce – North Hertfordshire College
  • Best Use of Spices – University College Birmingham
  • Best Menu Compilation, Balance and Planning – Colchester Institute
  • Worshipful Company of Cooks Food Waste Award – Colchester Institute