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24th February 2023

University of West London emerges victorious at Zest Quest Asia 2023

Written by: Edward Waddell
The University of West London have been announced winners of Zest Quest Asia 2023, marking the third time a team from the University’s London Geller College of Hospitality and Tourism has taken first place.

The results of the live cook-off were announced at a Gala Dinner and Awards Night held at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Centre London Heathrow on Friday, 17th February 2023.

Some 250 guests, including representatives from colleges, industry, and the media attended the evening, which included a raffle and auction to raise funds for the Todiwala Foundation.

The winning team consisting of Nekeshia Alcee, Olivia Parker-Smith and Prema Rebekah Kaur Sembi-Harding as well as their tutor, Nathan Vasanthan, won a ‘trip of a lifetime’ – a week-long culinary and cultural journey to Bangkok, Thailand.

The judges were impressed by the team’s Vietnamese-inspired 4-course menu:

  • Amuse bouche: Dorset clam dumplings with Sriracha and mixed herbs
  • Starter: Tomato and mushroom Pho with tomato brittles
  • Main course: Banh chung – a Northern Vietnamese rice dish served during the Lunar Year, Lemongrass and Chilli Chicken with stir-friend broccoli stems and cabbage served with carrot, daikon and Kohlrabi pickle
  • Dessert: Honteri-miso glazed sticky rice banana cake with creamy coconut sauce and roasted peanuts

Cyrus Todiwala, co-founder with Pervin Todiwala of Zest Quest Asia, said: “This was a truly magnificent evening. After ten years, Zest Quest Asia continues to fire the creativity and imaginations of young student chefs.

“People are taking Asian cuisine seriously as an artform and the performance and dedication of our finalists proves that Zest Quest Asia is making a difference in their raised perceptions. Congratulations to University of West London for their fabulous hat-trick and to all the finalists who have emerged as winners as well.”

Zest Quest Asia was founded in 2013 by Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala to address the gaps in skills and knowledge of classical Asian cuisine and to stimulate interest in Asian cookery as a viable, long-term career.

Other winners on the evening were:

  • Best Menu Planning and Presentation Award sponsored by Ian MacLeod Distillers – The Sheffield College
  • Best Use of Tormek Knife Sharpener Award – North Hertfordshire College
  • Minimum Wastage Award sponsored by McCormick – University of West London
  • Andrew Bennett MBE Team Work Award – University College Birmingham
  • Spice it Up with Schwartz Award – Cheshire College South and West
  • Best Use of Hallde Food Processor – North Hertfordshire College
  • Best Use of Panasonic Accelerated Combination Oven – University of West London
  • Best Use of of Mizkan Japanese Seasonings – UHI North Highland
  • Best Use of Tilda Rice – North Hertfordshire College
  • Most Sustainable Menu Award sponsored by Meiko UK – UHI North Highland
  • Runner-Up of Zest Quest Asia 2023 – University College Birmingham