This is the second time that University College Birmingham has won Zest Quest Asia, the last time being in 2017. This year, University College Birmingham students John Almeida, Dorottya Kalo, Goncalo Machado, with the guidance of their mentor, Lewis Walker, won over the judges with their bold 3-course Pan-Asian menu inspired by the cuisines of Thailand, Sri-Lanka and Japan.
Their winning culinary showcase, prepared during a live cook-off at Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen earlier in the day, comprised a starter of Thai Langoustine ‘Mi Krop’ Croquette, Langoustine & Spinach Bisque, Mango & Coconut Salsa; a main course of Sri Lankan Monkfish ‘Malu Mirisata’ Curry, Cashew Sauce, Spiced Infused ‘Kiribath’ Rice Green Bean Salad, ‘Wattaka Kalu Pol’ Pumpkin Curry, Tomato Sambal, and a dessert of Japanese Cherry Blossom Garden Dark Chocolate and Yuzu ‘Namelaka’, Macha ‘Kasutera sponge, Spiced Cherries, Sesame Oil, Blossom Garnish.
The judges were equally impressed by the team’s performance during the presentation and interview that followed, where they had the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of their chosen cuisines’ underlying cultural and historical traditions.
Now on its seventh series, Zest Quest Asia 2020 is a competition that celebrates – and generously rewards -- talent and ambition in the Asian culinary arts among student chefs in Britain. Founded by restaurateurs Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL and Pervin Todiwala with the involvement of the Master Chefs of Great Britain, it aims to raise the profile of Asian cuisine as a career among budding chefs. By doing so, it hopes to stem the loss of skills in traditional Asian cookery brought on by restrictive immigration and to one day see Asian cuisine embedded in the curriculum.