The competition was launched three years ago to help address the skills shortage threatening the £3.5bn Asian food industry in the UK and to stimulate interest in Asian cookery as a career among home-grown student chefs.
The announcement that the competition is now open for entries coincides with preparations by students from Milton Keynes College – the current champions – for their imminent trip of a lifetime to Bangkok, Thailand.
Jessica Hopcraft, Jake Stokes and Crystall Fleming, along with their lecturer, will enjoy their prize of a culinary journey to Bangkok, Thailand, staying at the DoubleTree by Hilton Sukhumvit, after creating a four-course, Vietnamese-inspired menu, with drinks to match.
Here, in BigHospitality's exclusive video Todiwala, chef-patron of restaurants Cafe Spice Namaste, Mr Todiwala's Kitchen and Assado, talks about the competition's growth and shares his top tips for success.
This year's competition has already drawn the support of Hilton T5, Tilda Rice, Panasonic, Kerrymaid and Cobra Beer.
Todiwala said: “I am thrilled that that we have only just launched this year’s competition and already some of the most respected names in industry have come forwarded to renew, or else to pledge, their commitment to Zest Quest Asia. I think they have noticed, along with the judges, that the standard year on year is on the rise. This also means that the objectives of the competition are being interpreted more precisely by the colleges. It is also clear that the competition is an inspiring one, with students putting a lot of research into their menus.
“I can honestly say that the standard on the day of the last cook-off itself showed a real heartfelt passion and enthusiasm, the likes of which we don’t normally see. This year we are hoping that with the industry behind us at such an early stage, the word will spread even further and more colleges will be keen to show us what they can do.”
To enter colleges should first register their interest at zestquestasia.com after which they will be contacted with details of rules and entry requirements. Deadline for entries is 4 November 2016 and paper judging will take place during the following two weeks.
The cook-off for the six finalists will take place at Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 5, in February 2017.