Oliver Herrington, a student from Sheffield College, has been announced as the winner of the Zest Quest Asia – Tilda Challenge Award 2021 for his Nagasaki ramen pork belly and handmade Tilda Basmati rice noodles.
Herrington, mentored by chef lecturer Andrew Gabbitas, delivered a Nagasaki ramen with marinated glazed pork belly served with langoustine, mussels and kamaboko, fried wood ear mushrooms with garlic and ginger broth, and handmade basmati rice noodles, inspired by a Japanese dish created in 1899.
The judges felt the dish (pictured below) went "above and beyond every part of the criteria" with its creativity, flavour, texture and skill.
Herrington and Sheffield college will enjoy an exclusive masterclass with Cyrus Todiwala as part of the winning prize, as well as a trophy, chef knives and jacket for Herrington, and Tilda products for the college kitchen.
The award for Best Use of Rice went to Killoran Wills from University College Birmingham, who impressed the panel with her coconut and lime rice cream served on a cardamom and cumin jasmine rice sponge with sesame seed tuile and mango compote and coulis.
Zest Quest Asia founders Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala welcomed Herrington as the eighth winner of the title. The judges were Cyrus and Pervin, Murray Chapman, Steve Munkley and Jo Witchell from Tilda Foodservice.
Cyrus said: "This was one of the toughest competitions to judge in a long time. Each and every finalist wowed the judges with their sheer effort and talent, so regardless of there being only a few named winners, everyone deserves a pat on the back for a great job done.
"Oliver is a worthy Zest Quest Asia – Tilda Challenge champion. His winning dish was outstanding on so many levels and reflected everything this competition was about – his fantastic use of Tilda rice, the research he undertook to learn more about an Asian culture and its cuisines, and the talent and ambition he displayed in creating and executing a superb award-winning dish.
"Pervin, myself, our director Murray and all the Zest Quest Asia team are grateful to Tilda Foodservice for the commitment and resources they've poured into the Zest Quest Asia – Tilda Challenge 2021. It's unbelievably rewarding to see that our passion to ensure student chefs develop skills and knowledge in Asian cuisine is also shared by college lecturers up and down the country, as well as the tasting judges who shared their expertise with us."
Annette Coggins, head of foodservice at Tilda UK, added: "This year's competition was tougher than ever before, with the chefs creating a diverse range of dishes and executing each one to the highest quality. At Tilda we pride ourselves on innovation and the versatility of our rice products and that's why Oliver took the trophy this year. We do want to say that we consider everyone who got to this final stage as a winner, so we extend our thanks and congratulations to all the finalists".
To recognise as many students as possible, all entries to the competition were also reviewed by MSC Seafood, which awarded Ben Addy from Sheffield College first place in a special Best Use of Fish prize, designed to encourage the next generation of chefs to think about sourcing and cooking with sustainable fish.