The Zest Quest Asia – Panasonic Autumn Challenge has revealed its winner as Emily Simkins, a Level 2 catering and hospitality student at North Hertfordshire College.
The competition, co-founded by Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala, of Café Spice Namaste, is an online spinoff of the original Zest Quest Asia contest for students wishing to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in Asian cuisine.
Simkins emerged the judges’ choice for her Thai Salmon in Spicy Coconut sauce, which she prepared using a new Panasonic NEC1275 professional combination microwave oven. In keeping with the competition rules, she submitted a video capturing the step-by-step preparation of her dish, applying both traditional methods and state-of-the-art microwave technology.
For her efforts, North Hertforshire College will now be able to install the combination microwave oven permanently in its training kitchens. Simkins and her tutor Anthony Gascoigne will receive a Santoku knife and a £50 voucher from Russums, suppliers of catering and clothing equipment.
Gascoigne, a lecturer at North Hertfordshire College, said: “The college had Twitter live on screen as all the students waited around for the results of the competition. When it was announced that Emily had won, all our students were able to see what can be achieved through commitment and hard work. High fives and fist bumps all around. This has raised the aspirations of a whole year group of young chefs. Thanks to Zest Quest Asia, Panasonic and everyone involved for providing the platform four our students to get creative, compete and be inspired!”
Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala judged the competition alongside Murray Chapman and Scott Kedwards, Panasonic development chef. The latter said: “Emily went through great lengths to display her ingredients, explain each step she took in the process of creating her winning dish, and demonstrated a deep understanding of what microwave technology, could do. Her performance was consistent throughout and as judges we could just imagine the depths of flavour.
“We’re pleased that the main prize actually goes to Emily’s college. For such a young person to be able to share her success in this way is a remarkable achievement, because this amazing piece of kit will help enrich the knowledge and experience of her peers and lecturers as well.”
Barnaby Sykes, head of category marketing, Panasonic, added: “Congratulations to Emily in winning the Zest Quest Asia Panasonic Autumn Challenge. But also a big thank you goes out to all the entrants, the finalists and the teams that have supported them in their colleges for the amazing work that has gone into making this competition a huge success.
“We’ve been really impressed with the standard of work, level of commitment and imagination shown. We thought that we’d pushed the students quite hard in this quest, but they’ve risen to the challenge and shown us a thing or two! Now we’re looking forward to working with Emily more closely to see what else we can do with the Panasonic combination oven.”