Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala launch Zest Quest Asia 2023

Zest Quest Asia

Zest Quest Asia

Standard Supplier 5th October 2022
Zest Quest Asia

Zest Quest Asia

Standard Supplier

Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala launch Zest Quest Asia 2023

Students who believe they have the talent and ambition to prove their mettle in the world of Asian cuisine can now submit their entries to Zest Quest Asia 2023. 


Founders Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala have announced the official launch of their annual ground-breaking competition, first created in 2013 with the support of the Master Chefs of Great Britain. 

Zest Quest Asia is designed to encourage students to strive for excellence in the knowledge, understanding and preparation of Asian food.

Now on its ninth year, the competition is open to all full-time catering students with permanent residency in the UK.

There are no age limits, so that mature students, provided they meet the criteria, can take part. 

Zest Quest Asia is organised by the Todiwala Foundation, a not-for-profit entity set up to support catering education and training, particularly in the Asian culinary arts. 

Last August, the foundation was able to distribute small cash grants of up to £500 to students via their colleges, including North Hertfordshire College, The Sheffield College, Loughborough College and The Colchester Institute who in turn have used the grants to fund the purchase of items students need but may find difficult to afford. 

To-date, Zest Quest Asia has been funded entirely through sponsorship, and the Todiwalas are proud to announce this year’s line-up of confirmed gold sponsors: Tilda, Hilton, Cobra, Meiko, Panasonic, Schwartz by McCormick Flavour Solutions, and Mizkan. 

Zest Quest Asia is a team competition whereby colleges field 3 students supported by their lecturer. 

Both entry requirements and judging criteria are rigorous; while the presentation of the dishes can be modernised, their preparation must reflect authentic Asian cooking techniques and ingredients. 

Finalists will go forward to a live cook off-to be held at the Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 5 on Friday, 17th February 2021, and the winners will be announced at a Gala Dinner that evening. 

The grand prize is a cultural and educational trip to a secret Asian destination only revealed on the night. Since the launch of the competition, Zest Quest Asia champions have travelled to India, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. 

There will also be a number of additional prizes, such as a voyage of discovery to Italy for the team demonstrating the Best Use of Rice, sponsored by Tilda. 

Cyrus Todiwala said: "Once again, we are expecting great things from college students from around the UK through their performance in Zest Quest Asia. This summer, Pervin and I hosted a gathering at our restaurant, Café Spice Namaste, where college lecturers who witnessed how their had students bloomed because of Zest Quest Asia were only too proud to share how much value they now attach to what was once a fledgling competition. Zest Quest Asia is a substantive competition – resources are poured into making sure students have as much support as possible even before the competition, such as the tutorials and masterclasses provided by our food sponsors. In fact, students gain the most points from their ability to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the cuisine.” 

Pervin Todiwala said, “Hundreds of students have entered Zest Quest Asia since we launched the competition in 2013. The winners have had experiences in different Asian countries that have brought them into direct contact with both the culture and cuisine they may not have discovered had they not competed in Zest Quest Asia. Their hearts and minds have been opened to new worlds.” 

Steve Munkley, Zest Quest Asia chairman of judges said, “It’s not a matter of simply cooking, although that is a challenge in itself, but it’s being able to show an appreciation of the culture behind the chosen Asian cuisine. But then the prizes are sensational. I don’t know of many student competitions that are as demanding and rewarding. Zest Quest Asia motivates our industry’s future to aim high.” 

The deadline for submission of entries to Zest Quest Asia is Friday, 16th December 2022. Finalists will be announced on Wednesday, 4th January 2023. 

For more information on how to enter, please contact Cora Strachan at [email protected].

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.