Milton Keynes College has won the third annual Zest Quest Asia 2016 contest.
The college beat Doncaster College, University College Birmingham, University of West London, Farnborough College and Westminster Kingsway College in a final cook-off at Mr Todiwala's Kitchen, the signature restaurant from chef Cyrus Todiwala at the Hilton London Heathrow T5 hotel at a 250-person gala dinner awards ceremony.
The team has won a 10-day culinary journey to Bangkok, Thailand, staying at the Double Tree Hilton. Jessica Hopcraft, Jake Stokes and Crystall Fleming created a four-course, Vietnamese-inspired menu with matching drinks, using a combination of Asian ingredients and spices plus locally-sourced ingredients and British beef.
The menu comprised a starter named "Vietnamese Trio", with beetroot pho, vermicelli and Asian green roll, and a coconut and tofu banh knot; a second course of sea bream braised in soy in a traditional clay pot and mussel rice; a third course of sticky pork in hoisin sauce; and a dessert of a banana banh flan with Milton Keynes honey and toasted sesame tempura bananas.
Judges included Pervin Todiwala, co-patron of Café Spice Namaste and an honorary dame d'Escoffier; Steve Munkley, executive chef of the Royal Garden hotel; Murray Chapman, founder of Passion to Inspire, and chairman of judges Andrew Bennett, director of food and beverage at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
Last year's champions, Farnborough College, prepared the canapés for the event.
Darren Klein, catering tutor at Milton Keynes College, said: "I cannot tell you the extent of the good that this award will do for the college. We are amazed and grateful to the judges of Zest Quest Asia who recognised our team's efforts."
Cyrus Todiwala, chef-patron of Café Spice Namaste and founder of Zest Quest Asia, said the competition helped to introduce Asian food into the curriculum. "The winning team prepared an amazing menu… and our champions had made a real effort to show that they understood Vietnamese cuisine. We were impressed not just by the tastes and flavours of their dishes, but with how they were able to demonstrate a strong sustainability ethos."
The University of West London won the ‘Least Food Wasted Award' sponsored by Jestic, and the ‘Best Presented Menu Award' sponsored by Churchill; while Farnborough College won the ‘Best Dish of the Day Award' sponsored by Glengoyne.
Zest Quest Asia was founded to address the skills shortage within the £3.5bn Asian food industry in the UK, and to stimulate interest in Asian cookery as a career among British-national student chefs.
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