Students from three colleges were named winners of the recent Zest Quest Asia Summer Challenge, the first completely online spinoff of Zest Quest Asia, the culinary competition founded by Indian restaurateurs Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala to raise the profile of Asian cuisine among budding chefs. First prize went to Ryan Plummer of Colchester Institute for his king prawn tempura starter served with a mango, red onion and chilli salsa, accompanied by a lemon mayonnaise, burnt butter crumb and micro-coriander.
The judges praised Plummer’s decision to recreate an authentic Japanese dish with an original twist. He wins a lunch or dinner for four people, including tutor Colchester Institute tutor Ian Perkins, at Café Spice Namaste, the Todiwalas’ flagship restaurant in Whitechapel.
Hannah Fisher of University College Birmingham was named runner-up for her complex Asian-inspired dessert medley. Kenya Cameron of University College Birmingham and Luke Watkins of North Hertfordshire College both won Highly Commended prizes.
Plummer said: “I’m thrilled to be chosen as the first Zest Quest Asia Summer Challenge champion, as the competition was tough, and there were many other great entries. I chose to enter the competition following on from my experience at Zest Quest Asia 2019. Now I’m looking forward to the meal to be cooked by Cyrus. I’d like to thank Colchester Institute and Milsoms Kesgrave Hall for their support.”
Cyrus Todiwala added: “We were very impressed by the entries to our first Zest Quest Asia Summer Challenge. The talent and ambition was clear to see. Our champion Ryan stood out for the originality of his dish and how it reflected the ethos of Zest Quest Asia. In fact, all our winners were deserving for the obvious hard work they’d put in and their excellent entries.”