The team from Farnborough College of Technology have been announced as the winners of the 2015 Zest Quest Asia competition.
The three students, who saw off competition from six other colleges, were awarded their prize at a gala dinner and awards ceremony on 16 February at the Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 5.
Rizza Eaglestone, James Spray and Liam Edmunds won over the judges with a four-course southeast Asian menu that included a starter of crispy soft-shell crab with Thai cucumber salad and coriander and a main course medley of ‘street food chicken' served alongside Thai blood sausage, steamed greens and sticky rice.
The winning team and their tutor, Alex Wilcock, are now bound for a trip of a lifetime to Colombo in Sri Lanka, where they will be hosted by the luxury Hilton Colombo. There they will have the opportunity to work in the hotel's kitchens and learn the secrets of Sri Lankan food and food styles as well as visit Colombo's colourful food markets and tour a major food manufacturer.
Zest Quest Asia was launched in 2013 by chef and restaurateur Cyrus Todiwala with the Master Chefs of Great Britain. It is aimed at students who are permanent residents of the UK and who wish to be recognised for their knowledge and budding expertise in Asian cuisine, and is a response to the looming shortage in authentic Asian culinary skills.
Wilcock, who tutored the winning team, said: ‘Rizza, James and Liam were hungry to win, so they truly embraced the competition. They brought a lot of heart into the food they prepared. Rizza even brought in her cultural experience by Face-timing her Filipino grandmother for advice. Now we want to go forward, and winning Zest Quest Asia can only help put the college on the map."
Todiwala added: "I am delighted at the turnout for Zest Quest Asia this year in terms of the number of colleges that entered the competition and the wealth of sponsorship from industry we were able to attract.
"We could not have done it without the passion and diligence of the students and their tutors as well as the support of forward-looking college heads who believe in what we are trying to achieve - a pipeline of young home-grown cooks who truly appreciate, understand and have the ability to prepare food in an authentic Asian style, drawing on classical Asian techniques. They are the future of our industry."
The other five finalists were Sheffield College, Westminster Kingsway College (last year's winners), University College Birmingham, University of West London and Doncaster College. The team from Sheffield College were named as the runners-up.