The Sheffield College has been announced as the worthy winners of Zest Quest Asia 2024 at its celebratory Gala Dinner & Awards Night held at the Hilton London Wembley hotel on Tuesday 27th February 2024.  Guests included college, industry and media representatives who gathered to support Zest Quest Asia in its mission to secure homegrown chefs for the future, who are proficient in Asian cuisine.

Six student teams from colleges across the UK competed for the coveted Zest Quest Asia crown.  All teams performed to a high standard, displaying outstanding talent and skill in the execution of their Asian inspired menus, but alas, there could only be one winner.

Following a detailed menu presentation, a challenging, live, four course cook-off was held at The University of West London.  After scrupulous judging The Sheffield College triumphed with their amazing contemporary Filipino influenced menu –  as 2022 Zest Quest Asia winners, their previous prize visit to the Philippines provided much inspiration!!  

Sheffield College lecturer Andy Gabbitas mentored the winning team: Phoebe Tuttle, Beth Brewster and Joe Defries, who produced an accomplished menu which featured an amuse bouche of Portobello Mushroom Sisig served in a croustade basket, a starter of Tapsilog; creatively using the three elements of beef, garlic fried Tilda basmati rice and cured egg yolk, followed by a main course of Chicken Adobo accompanied by sweet white onions, green beans in a caramelised soy with crunchy annatto peanuts and a topping of Banana Ketchup.  To finish, a dessert of Ube Ice Cream; derived from the vibrant purple yam, crowned with a crunchy, deep fried, caramelised Turon with a Don Papa Rum infused caramel sauce.

Andy Gabbitas BEM, Chef Lecturer, The Sheffield College: “We are delighted with our win at Zest Quest Asia 2024.  This competition is rigorous in its detail, the student’s endless hours of hard work, research and recipe development has paid off and the self-confidence it has given the students is immeasurable.

Zest Quest Asia’s aim of nurturing homegrown talent in Asian food has certainly had an effect here at Sheffield College, year on year student interest grows, so much so that we now set an in-house Asian cuisine competition to select next year’s team!  As a result of Zest Quest Asia, Asian inspired dishes regularly feature on our training restaurant menu.”

Jean-Philippe Laborde, Managing Director, Tilda says, “We are always thrilled to be a part of Zest Quest Asia and even more so as Headline sponsors.  Zest Quest Asia is known for its high standards and as one of the most challenging yet rewarding of culinary competitions, experiencing first-hand the culinary brilliance on display and getting to taste the amazing dishes crafted by these talented 

chefs was an absolute delight.  The creativity and skills demonstrated in incorporating Tilda basmati rice into Asian cuisine were truly remarkable and being involved in the judging was superb.  

“Cyrus & Pervin Todiwala’s commitment to the students’ growth is fabulous. Congratulations to all the finalists for their outstanding achievements, and massive Congratulations to The Sheffield College who will join us on an amazing, unforgettable trip to India”

Tilda Foodservice is delighted to be taking The Sheffield College on a culinary adventure to Delhi, India.  The remarkable experience and knowledge the students will have gained whilst participating in the competition will be further enhanced at the heartland of Tilda Basmati rice.  Highlights of the trip include a visit to the paddy fields of Taraori, Haryana, gaining insights from the rice farmers, from growing to trading at the Mundi Markets, and a visit to Tilda India’s rice mills.  A touch of luxury with an overnight stay at the historic Noormahal Palace Hotel, and plenty of gastronomical delights await along the atmospheric streets of Old Delhi.

Aside from taking the headline spot this year, every year Tilda Foodservice awards ‘Best Use of Tilda Rice’ to the team that best demonstrates innovative and original use of Tilda Basmati rice.  North Hertfordshire College wowed Tilda with their steak donburi with sautéed spinach, using seasoned Tilda basmati and wild rice, which was cooked to perfection, visually appealing, and well suited to their Japanese themed menu.  These winning students can look forward to an immersive tour of Tilda’s UK rice factory and mill to discover the ‘paddy to plate’ story, followed by a sumptuous dinner at Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala’s Café Spice Namasté.

Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL, Zest Quest Asia Founder says “The team at Tilda Foodservice have always been such great advocates of Zest Quest Asia, backing the cause since its inception some 12 years ago.  We are deeply grateful for their unwavering support and generosity and for their expertise and educational mentoring of our student competitors.

“This year, as headline sponsors, Tilda is providing the winner’s grand prize of an amazing culinary experience, exploring Delhi, India, which is sure to enthuse these talented, aspiring young chefs.

“I join Tilda in congratulating The Sheffield College on their winning Zest Quest Asia 2024.  Their impressive and well-balanced menu displayed great skill, wonderful flavours and textures as well as an in depth understanding of Asian cooking methods and techniques. The Sheffield College joins the growing alumni of Zest Quest Asia participants striving to secure the future of UK born Asian cuisine.”

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the editor

Editor of Curry Culture and lover of IPA. I wanted to create something that highlighted the best of the industry to both those who work in it and the public who love it so much. Curry Culture is the result so I hope you enjoy it.

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