Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala launch Zest Quest Asia 2024
The competition responsible for acquainting many a student chef with the myriad cuisines of Asia – from Indian to Japanese, Filipino to Vietnamese, Thai, Sri Lankan and beyond – is embarking on its eleventh year, with the launch of Zest Quest Asia 2024 by founders Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala.
Now a firm fixture of the UK’s culinary competition calendar, Zest Quest Asia was created in 2013 with the support of the Master Chefs of Great Britain to lift the profile of Asian food among budding chefs enrolled in full-time in colleges across the country. Since then, the annual competition has awarded 10 teams composed of three students and their tutor with a first prize trip of a lifetime to an Asian culinary capital. There, local hosts take them on an educational voyage across the tastes and flavours of Asian cooking where they visit local markets, take part in hands-on chef demonstrations, help to prepare special menus and imbibe the local food scene.
One of the main criteria for entry is that students hold permanent residency in the UK. In this way, the competition strives for a legacy whereby talent in Asian cuisine remains in the UK, thus helping to build a roster of ‘home-grown” chefs able to prepare authentic and Asian-inspired dishes in the country’s commercial and industrial kitchens. However, Zest Quest Asia is well-known for its rigour; teams that go on to the final round must then submit to a live cook-off, preceded by a face-to-face presentation to determine their knowledge and understanding.
The competition will be spread over two days: the presentations take place on Monday, 26th February 2024, followed by the live cook-off on Tuesday, 27th February, and the announcement of the winners later in the evening at the gala dinner, to be held in 2024 at Hilton London Wembley.
Robert Richardson FIH MI, chief executive of the Institute of Hospitality, said, “We are delighted to be supporting Zest Quest Asia 2024. Developing and nurturing young talent across the hospitality industry is what the Institute of Hospitality stands for, so we are delighted to provide this year’s finalists with membership to help support them by providing access to a wealth of resources, such as our mentoring programme. Zest Quest Asia provides young chefs with an incredible opportunity to develop themselves, so I would encourage any young chef to jump at this opportunity and apply.”
Cyrus Todiwala OBE FIH said, “I have always said that Zest Quest Asia is the competition for the most talented and ambitious student chefs. Pervin and I have seen how incrementally through the years the competition has made inroads. More and more colleges seem to be encouraging their students and tutors to take Asian cuisine seriously. So I would call on all colleges to give their students the opportunity to experience the excitement of preparing and cooking of Asian food. Asian ingredients that can be used in Asian cooking are more popular than ever. You have so much to gain.”
Deadline for submission of entries is Friday 8th December 2023. Finalists will be announced on Wednesday 4th January 2024.