University of West London students have been crowned winners of the Zest Quest Asia 2018 competition.
The result was announced at an awards ceremony last night (12 February) at the Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 hotel.
Matthew Williams, Matthew Dibb-Fuller, Michael Scholz and mentor Nathan Vasanthan of the University of West London won a seven day trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, including accommodation at the Hilton Hanoi Opera, a street food tour, cocktail demonstration, and full-day organic farming tour.
Six finalist teams competed in a live cook-off at Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen, operated by Cyrus Todiwala, where they had to prepare a three-course meal for two covers in two hours, demonstrating classical and contemporary Asian cookery skills.
The other teams represented Colchester Institute, North Hertfordshire College, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield College and Westminster Kingsway College.
This was followed by a Q&A session with judges, where teams were required to talk about the background of their dishes and why they chose to cook them.
Judges included Andrew Wong, head chef of A Wong in London; Andrew Bennett, food and beverage director at the Sheraton Park Lane hotel; Clive Roberts, chairman of the Master Chefs of Great Britain; restaurateurs Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala; Steve Munkley, executive head chef of the Royal Garden hotel; and Murray Chapman, founder of A Passion to Inspire.
Bennett said: “The judges were looking for consistency, flavours and textures across the whole dining experience. The University of West London delivered that.
“Their dishes had a lot of components, which sometimes makes the dishes confusing, but on this occasion it worked. There were a lot of interesting flavours and it was a complex menu but they pulled it off.”
Other awards were given during the evening, including Dish of the Day which was presented to the University of West London.
Sheffield Hallam University won both the Chef’s Least Food Wasted Award and the Regale’s Award for the Best Presented Menu.
Colchester Institute received the Koppert Cress Award for Best Use of Living Ingredient and a three-day trip to the Netherlands, with a masterclass given by a two-Michelin-stared chef, and the opportunity to cook for Koppert Cress’ chief executive.
Sheffield College scooped the Tilda Award for the Best Use of Rice.
Zest Quest Asia was launched in 2013 by Todiwala with the Master Chefs of Great Britain. It was founded to address the skills shortage within the £3.5bn Asian food industry in the UK, and to stimulate interest in Asian cookery as a career among British-national student chefs.
Previous winning teams include University College Birmingham, Farnborough College and Milton Keynes College.