Panasonic has backed restaurateurs Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala in the latest launch for their Zest Quest Asia student culinary competition initiative.
The Panasonic Autumn Challenge is the latest online spinoff of the contest for students wishing to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in Asian cuisine.
The new challenge aims to place technology as its centrepiece. Students, working individually with the support of their college tutor, will be invited to design and create a dish inspired by authentic Asian tastes, textures and flavours while drawing on the capacity of Panasonic’s commercial combination microwave to perform the functions associated with traditional cookery methods (e.g. toasting, steaming).
The competition, which opens for entries on Friday, 20 August 2021, represents the latest stage in the partnership between Zest Quest Asia and Panasonic. The UK subsidiary of the Japanese electronics giant has been a consistent gold sponsor of the national competition founded by the Todiwalas in 2013 with the support of the Master Chefs of Great Britain. In 2017, Panasonic sponsored an educational and cultural trip of a lifetime to Tokyo and Osaka for the Zest Quest Asia champions from University College Birmingham.
The new challenge will consist of two-rounds, and each student wishing to enter is advised to research in the first instance the capabilities of a commercial combination microwave, and Panasonic, in particular.
The first round will require the submission of a recipe highlighting at least three stages of preparation where microwave oven technology can be substituted for traditional cooking methods, as well as the posting on social media of the finished dish (not necessarily cooked in microwave). Three finalists will be chosen to go forward to the second round, whereupon Panasonic will supply each finalist with a combination microwave oven at their college so that recipes can be fine-tuned to work using the ovens. The finalists must then create videos of themselves making their dishes and submit these to the panel of judges.
The winning student will receive a Panasonic combination microwave for his or her college, as well as a Santoku knife and a £50 Russums voucher (for the lecturer as well). The two runner up students will win a commercial rice cooker for their respective colleges, as well as a Santoku knife and a £25 Russums voucher each for themselves and their lecturer.
Cyrus Todiwala said: “We were delighted when Panasonic approached us with this great idea to be headline sponsor of the Zest Quest Asia – Panasonic Autumn Challenge. It just shows the value the industry continues to place on our competition which has helped lift the profile of Asian cuisine among budding chefs.
“But on another level, it allows Zest Quest Asia to acknowledge that while it is vital for chefs to learn authentic, classical Asian cookery methods, in the professional kitchen, they will also need to learn how to handle and make the most of the latest technology available. The Zest Quest Asia – Panasonic Autumn Challenge allows us to bring together the classic and the contemporary, two qualities that distinguish Asian cuisine in Britain today.
“We are looking forward to a great response to Zest Quest Asia’s latest online competition from both students and their lecturers. The experience of competing can only help pave the way to a promising future for our young chefs, especially as we emerge from lockdown.”
Panasonic Europe’s head of category marketing (imaging, home AV, Technics, kitchen) Barnaby Sykes said: “As a gold sponsor since its inception, Panasonic is very proud to once again collaborate in this fantastic competition, supporting student chefs in our industry, as it sits alongside our own company policy of developing human talent.
“The past year has been tough for everyone but we were heartened to see how many entries came through for the online contests that the Zest Quest Asia team have been running through lockdown and we wanted to add our backing to their cause. It was a true demonstration of how passionate these young chefs are and we think our Autumn Challenge will test their mettle a little further with the added dimension of technology in the mix.”
The Zest Quest Asia – Panasonic Autumn Challenge is open to all full-time students with permanent UK residency status or indefinite leave to remain.