An elegant and ambitious menu celebrating migration and modern British Asian Society propelled Hugo Montgomery, Peter Price and Alexander McLaren of University College Birmingham to the top of Zest Quest Asia 2017. 

They saw off competition from newcomers Colchester Institute and Hackney Community College as well as seasoned entrants The Sheffield College and University of West London. The three students along with their Chef Lecturer and mentor, Lewis Walker, were  crowned the new Zest Quest Asia champions at a gala dinner and awards ceremony held at the Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 on Monday 13th February.

Their winning menu, printed to represent an oversized British passport, comprised a first course of Sri Lankan Marinated North Atlantic Mackerel, Ceylonese Fish Croquette Wrapped in Idiyappam Noodles, Tomato and Tamarind Fondue, Garlic Fried Spinach, Kiri Hodi Coconut Sauce, Pol Sambol.  The main course offered a Royal Thali with Roast Loin of Scottish Speyside Venison, Chana Dahl, Bhartha, Peanut Sauce, Spiced Pea Puree with Fried Paneer, Mint Sauce, Aloo Gobi, Glazed Pearl Onion and Roti Bread.


To finish, the team prepared a Gloucestershire Williams Pear and Saffron Zarda, Chai Tea, Soaked Date and Pear Samosa, Cinnamon Poached Pear, with Date Purée and Dugga Spice.  The team also won Koppert Cress’ Best Presented Menu

Award, while Glengoyne’s Best Dish of the Day award went to Hackney Community College and the Least Food Wasted Award, sponsored by I.O. Shen, was presented to Colchester Institute.


2017's winning team and their tutor, Lewis Walker, were awarded a trip of a lifetime, courtesy of headline sponsor Panasonic.  The adventure started in Tokyo where they were generously hosted by the Hilton Tokyo. After spending time learning traditional Japanese cooking techniques such as Teppenyaki and Kaiseki, they then travelled by Bullet train to join up with Iain Phillips, UK Sales & Marketing Manager for Panasonic Commercial Microwaves.  Read on to discover more about their prize winning trip.. 

“Winning this year means a lot, and it shows that perseverance and hard work can really pay off. The students practiced out of hours, and in their own time, continuously and were determined to succeed. This is also UCB’s fourth attempt to win Zest Quest Asia and the lesson is you must never give up. We came back each year determined to do better and this year we succeeded.”

Lewis Walker, Culinary Arts Management Lecturer at University College Birmingham