Published on November 16, 2021

We’re delighted and super proud to share that Emily Simkins, one of North Hertfordshire College’s Level 2 Professional Cookery students, has been chosen as the overall winner of the Zest Quest Asia – Panasonic Autumn Challenge!

Emily was one of three finalists, picked from a field of over twenty students. The competition involved cooking an Asian-inspired dish that can be part-cooked in a professional combination microwave, testing students’ skills and their ability to adapt to new technologies.

Her dish of Thai Salmon in Spicy Coconut Sauce emerged as the judges’ choice. In recognition of her achievement, Emily has won a Panasonic combination microwave oven to be used in the NHC training kitchens, as well as a Santoku knife and a £50 voucher from Russums for both herself and her tutor, Anthony Gascoigne.

Emily said: “I am buzzing that I reached the final of the Zest Quest Autumn Challenge and that I won! This is my first competition entry at the College. I have definitely learnt more about the piece of equipment [the combination microwave] and how it can be used in a versatile way.”

Throughout the competition, Emily has been supported and encouraged by Anthony. He said: “The College had Twitter live on the screen so all the students were able to see what can be achieved through commitment and hard work. High fives and fist bumps were all around! This has raised the aspirations of a whole year group of young chefs. Thanks to Zest Quest Asia, Panasonic, and everyone involved for providing the platform for our students to get creative, compete, and be inspired!”

Cyrus Todiwala, who was among the judges of the competition alongside Pervin Todiwala, Murray Chapman, and Scott Kedwards (Panasonic development chef), said: “Emily went through great lengths to display her ingredients, explain each step she took in the process of creating her winning dish and demonstrated a deep understanding of what microwave technology could do. Her performance was consistent throughout and, as judges, we could just imagine the depths of flavours. For such a young person to share her success in this way is a remarkable achievement, because this amazing piece of kit will help enrich the knowledge and experience of her peers and lecturers as well.”

Well done again to Emily – we can’t wait to see what you do next!