Winners of the 2017 Zest Quest Asia contest have just returned from their culinary tour of Japan, the prize hosted by headline sponsor, Panasonic.
The ambitious menu, created by University College Birmingham’s Hugo Montgomery, Peter Price and Alexander McLaren, with lecturer mentor, Lewis Walker, earned the team from a trip of a lifetime to Japan which included a stay at the Tokyo Hilton with lessons in the art of preparing teppanyaki, sushi and kaiseki with the hotel’s head chefs, and an early morning visit to the Tsukiji fish market and tuna auction.
They then travelled by shinkansen (bullet train) to Osaka, and visited Kobe, where they undertook an excursion to a beef farm, followed by a Wagyu beef dinner, a VIP tour of Panasonic’s technology centre to see some innovations for homes of the future, a Panasonic factory visit with hands-on demonstrations using new commercial equipment and a trip to Kyoto for an injection of history and culture.
Iain Phillips, sales and marketing manager, Panasonic UK, said: “Zest Quest Asia’s aims mirror those of Panasonic, particularly in terms of creating value, contributing to society and supporting young people and it was very interesting to hear from these student chefs, first hand, of their aims and ambitions. During our visit to the factory they became involved in a discussion about an item of equipment that is in development and they have already made a difference as their comments were noted and talked about at a meeting later that day. This is exactly what our involvement in this competition is all about.”
This was UCB’s fourth consecutive year as entrants in the competition, founded by Cyrus Todiwala, which aims to help preserve the future of the Asian food and hospitality industry by nurturing the skills and knowledge of its cuisine among young British chefs.
Chef lecturer, Lewis Walker, commented: “I can’t deny we worked hard to win this complex, involved and challenging competition but it has most definitely been worth it and we have to thank Panasonic hugely for their generosity. There are so many learnings that we will take away from this experience, too many to mention, but perseverance pays. I’m now looking forward to being a part of the launch of the 2018 competition at the PACE conference in May and using our new-found knowledge to plan the canapés for next year’s gala dinner.”
The 2018 contest is being launched by Cyrus Todiwala and Lewis Walker at the PACE Conference on 3 May at the Hilton Hotel, Liverpool.