Published on February 14, 2023

The North Hertfordshire College Catering dream team is back, and they’re through to the finals of Zest Quest Asia 2023!

Phil Maddison, Level 3 Professional Cookery student at NHC, was part of the team that made it to the finals in 2022, and now he’s back to show the judges the new skills and understanding he’s built of Asian cuisine. We found out more about Phil’s journey since last year’s finals and what he’s looking forward to in this round of the competition. Check out his Student Snapshot below!

Why did you decide to enter Zest Quest Asia again in 2023?

“I have never felt prouder or more accomplished than when my team and I reached the finals last year. The day of the competition was an amazing experience, especially getting to meet amazing industry members and pushing myself to achieve my best.”

What lessons did you take from competing in the finals last year?

“Since last year, my interest in Asian cuisine has taken off. As a team, we got a chance to take part in a Japanese Upskill Day in partnership with Passion to Inspire at the ICE development kitchen, which was another experience I am very grateful for as it broadened my knowledge of Japanese cooking and produce. I have also started cooking more Asian food at home.”

Looking towards the future, how would you like to take your career further?

“I would love to travel around Asia to learn more first-hand. I’d like to travel to destinations such as Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, and the Philippines. Being able to learn traditional cooking from local people would excel my career and travelling is great for broadening the mind to other cultures and traditions.

“This is another reason the Zest Quest Asia competition is so enticing to me, as it introduces a chance to compete for the luxury of meeting and networking with people that I wouldn’t get anywhere else.”

How do you feel about being in the finals of this year’s competition?

“I can’t wait to hear the results and see if our team’s hard work has paid off. The competition is a great opportunity to compete against other top colleges around the country and show everyone what you can do with hard work, perseverance, and teamwork.”

Best of luck to Phil, Emily, and James 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