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Trainee chefs at The Sheffield College reach Zest Quest Asia 2022 finals

Updated: 04.04.22

Trainee chefs at The Sheffield College reach Zest Quest Asia 2022 finals

A team of Sheffield College trainee chefs are through to the finals of a national competition.

Students from six colleges nationally will compete in a live cook-off this week to decide who will be the new Zest Quest Asia 2022 champions.

The Sheffield College students are completing the Professional Chef’s Diploma at the College’s City Campus on Granville Road.

Jack Hayes, 17, one of the students taking part, said: “It’s unreal and a great experience getting through to the finals after all the hard work we have put in.”

He explained: “To prepare, we had to look in depth at the historical side of Vietnamese cuisine and what would be suitable for three courses for this country. My long term career ambition is to work on yachts and travel the world.”

Student Max Heath, 18, added: “I am extremely happy to have got through to the Zest Quest Asia finals. We have had to do lots of preparation and testing of recipes to get to this point and there is more to work to do before the competition.”

He explained: “I am really enjoying all aspects of my college course as I am passionate about what I do. My long term career ambitions are to become a chef and possibly move on to starting my own business in future.”

Andy Gabbitas, Chef Lecturer, Catering and Hospitality, The Sheffield College, said: “I am really proud of our students who have worked very hard to get to this stage.”

He added: “Taking part in industry competitions provides a brilliant opportunity for our students to hone their skills and knowledge and it’s great on their cv as they go further in their careers.”

The winners will be announced at the Zest Quest Asia 2022 Gala Dinner and Awards Night on April 8th, 2022 at the Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5. The announcement will follow a cook-off earlier in the day hosted by the hotel’s signature restaurant Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen.

Founded in 2013 by restaurateurs Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala with the Master Chefs of Great Britain, Zest Quest Asia has grown in prestige to become a fixture of the college competition calendar.

The competition recognises outstanding talent, knowledge and understanding of Asian cuisine. Last year, The Sheffield College’s Oliver Herrington won the virtual spin-off of the competition during the pandemic, the Zest Quest Asia Tilda Challenge 2021.

An educational and cultural trip of a lifetime awaits this year’s overall winners. To date, Zest Quest Asia champions have experienced the sights, sounds and tastes of Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand.

There are additional prizes at stake offering winners the chance to experience master classes, sponsored tours, and other immersive activities where they can learn more about the techniques and produce found in Asian cookery and cuisine.

Cyrus Todiwala said: “Once again we were bowled over by the quality of the entries, and we were pleased to see that the interest in Zest Quest Asia among the colleges and students was as strong as ever.

“This year the finalists will be challenged even further during the cook off, as they will be asked to demonstrate their use of technology and what they can do with some very interesting and innovative ingredients.”

He added: “We’re also pleased to announce that we have a new Chairman of Judges, with the sad passing of the great Andrew Bennett last year.  Stepping into Andrew’s shoes is another brilliant chef, Steve Munkley, one of the best competition judges in the world.

“Steve has helped us to judge Zest Quest Asia for many years. So, our finalists know that their performance in the competition will be held up to the highest standards. Good luck to them all, and I hope the parents, colleges and every corner of the industry will join us at the Gala Dinner to celebrate these amazing young chefs!”

Zest Quest Asia 2022 sponsors include Panasonic, Tilda, Hilton, Don Papa Rum, Cobra, Bidfood, Schwartz, Glengoyne, Meiko and Tibard. Tickets are on sale for the Gala Dinner and Awards Night at the Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5.

Apply now for course places at The Sheffield College starting in September 2022.

Pictured: Celebrity chef Cyrus Todiwala


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