Published on February 14, 2023

We’re proud to share that North Hertfordshire College’s Catering students are competing in the finals of Zest Quest Asia for the sixth year in a row!

Since making it to the finals in 2022, Level 3 Professional Cookery student Emily Simkins has been keeping busy, honing her skills and making the most of every opportunity so that she’s ready for this year’s finals. Find out more about the preparation she’s been doing along with the rest of her team in her open letter below!

“Since the finals of Zest Quest Asia in 2022, a lot has happened! We were fortunate enough to be invited to the Japanese Upskill Day by Murray Chapman of Passion to Inspire in June off the back of Zest Quest Asia 2022. It was an amazing experience getting to learn more about the Japanese cuisine in-depth and meet more influential faces from the industry. It reinforced and extended the knowledge we learnt for the country we chose last year – Japan.

“After that, I had the privilege of working alongside Michelin Chef Simon Hulstone and the Seafood from Norway Campaign in June. I was taught about the importance of seafood sustainability and where our seafood comes from.

“I have also participated in the last two Pub in the Parks this year in September, supporting The Star Inn with Andrew Pern in Chiswick and The Kentish Hare with Chris Tanner in St Albans.

“I also took part in The British Student Culinary Championships in October and achieved Gold in both The Risotto Challenge and The Delphis Eco Hygiene Award. I also reached the finals of the ICG Cookery Competition.

“Besides doing all of that over the course of the year, I’m very excited about competing in Zest Quest Asia 2023. Since the day after the final in 2022, we have spent a lot of time working hard, conjuring up ideas so that we could make it to the final once again. Knowing we were so close to winning last year, it’s inspired us. We are motivated more than EVER to make sure this year we go all the way and smash it!”

Best of luck to Emily, James, and Phil with the finals of Zest Quest Asia! We can’t wait to see how it goes.


If you’re feeling inspired to start your own journey in the Catering sector, be sure to check out North Hertfordshire College’s Hospitality and Catering courses. With NHC, you can stay close to home and compete in amazing competitions that help you go far in your future career!

Meet the Zest Quest Asia 2023 finalists