Sheffield College chefs-in-training have reached the final of the prestigious Zest Quest Asia 2023 competition.

Six universities will compete in a live cooking competition and team presentation at the Radisson Red Hotel London Heathrow this week.

Founded in 2013 by restaurateurs Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala, with Britain’s Master Chefs, the competition recognizes outstanding talent, knowledge and understanding of Asian cuisine.

This latest success follows in the footsteps of the Sheffield College students who won last year’s competition. As current holders of the degree, the students recently returned from an award-winning trip to the Philippines.

Andy Gabbitas, Chef Lecturer, Catering and Hospitality, The Sheffield Collegesaying:

“It has been an incredible year for our students. Our reigning winners recently returned from the Philippines and it’s great to see the University reach the final again this year.”

added: “We take pride in educating and training our students in the skills employers need. There is no better way to put them to the test than to compete in high-profile competitions led by the best talent in the industry.”

The Zest Quest Asia Gala Dinner and Awards Night on 17 February 2023 will include a reception with Asian-inspired drinks and canapés prepared by last year’s Sheffield College winners.

Participating students include Max Heath, who is completing the Professional Chef Diploma at College’s City campus on Granville Road, and who returned from a trip to the Philippines last month.

A once-in-a-lifetime educational trip, the visit included Manila and the province of Negros Occidental, known as Sugarlandia, and took place from January 9-16, 2023.

The award, sponsored by Don Papa Rum, allowed students to experience first-hand the sights, smells and flavors of traditional Filipino cuisine and participate in a series of activities including culinary master classes and a benefit dinner.

In addition, students enjoyed the rare opportunity to visit the land and distillery in the southern Philippines where Don Papa rum is produced from local sugarcane.

Andy Gabbitas continued: “It was the ride of my life, absolutely stunning. We enjoyed various 32- and 16-course haute cuisine menus and rum tastings, as well as tasty street food including delicacies such as sea urchin with wasabi and soy sauce.

“We visited the sugar mills and saw how brown sugar is made and we loved walking through Old Manila. we would like to thank Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala and Don Papa Rum for such an impressive journey.”

Student Max Heath saying:

“When it was announced that we had won Zest Quest Asia 2022, I was overcome with pride and excitement to visit the Philippines.

“The visit was incredible. I learned a lot about cooking and they made us feel welcome. We ate everywhere from a seafood breakfast in a market to a 16 course tasting menu!”

Max added: “It has made me want to travel after finishing university. I will never forget my time in the Philippines and I am truly grateful to all the organizers.”


For information on tickets for the event, visit the Zest Quest Asia website.

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