As one half of TV’s ‘The Spice Men’, Cyrus Todiwala has long been a highly respected chef, pioneering contemporary Indian cuisine, and with Café Spice Namaste, Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen, The Park Café, Assado Restaurant and his first in India – the Acron Waterfront Resort in Goa, his mission looks to be going rather well. With his passion for Asian food and support from The Master Chefs of Great Britain, Cyrus is the driving force behind the Zest Quest Asia competition, which aims to highlight the ever growing £3bn Asian food industry in the UK and the real demand for highly skilled chefs to deliver this complex and delicious cuisine. Previously known as the Asian Junior Chefs Challenge this is the second year of the competition which encourages student teams from catering colleges from across the country to compete in live cook-offs to win the amazing prize of a culinary trip to Sri Lanka and of course the huge endorsement of their skills the title brings.
Last year the title went to Westminster Kingsway College but this year, with eighteen colleges competing, Farnborough College of Technology took the crown with Sheffield as runners up. The culmination of the competition took place at the Hilton Terminal 5 with a live cook-off between the finalists in the day. Whilst the evening saw the great and the good of the industry gathered for an Asian feast devised by Cyrus and of course to find out the overall winner. We were lucky enough to attend as guests of our long standing client Tilda Foodservice, a gold sponsor of the event and hosts of true or false quiz, ‘Grains of Truth’ where guests could win a trip to eat out at Mr. Todiwala’s Kitchen.
With an amazing four course dinner and excellent company the evening went by in a flash, but the highlight (along of course with Cyrus’s usual witty repartee) was seeing the tutor from Farnborough College shed a very proud tear or two when her team of fresh faced young chefs went up on stage to be crowned the winners. In an industry where the skills gap is often talked about, these young men and women show how commitment and hard work, not to mention a good teacher, can get you a long way. Well done to all the team behind the competition and of course all the competitors who cooked their hearts out and are all winners in their own way. With initiatives like Zest Quest around, the future of Asian cuisine in the UK is looking bright!