Namaste! SAGB Members’ Shellfish at 2018 Zest Quest Asia Awards Dinner.
Last month, saw the Shellfish Promotions Project attain a whole new level of engagement with the SAGB’s involvement with the prestigious Zest Quest Asia Awards, a competition held annually for aspiring young UK chefs to further their knowledge of and enhance their skills in Asian cuisine. Conceived in 2013 by Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL and his wife Pervin and with the support of The Master Chefs of Great Britain, the competition seeks to address the gaps in skills and knowledge of classical Asian cuisine by stimulating interest in Asian cookery as a viable, long-term career. Now in its 6th year, there is every indication that the competition has found firm supporters in the hospitality industry as well as the wider business community.
Chef Cyrus approached us with the idea that UK shellfish could form part of the menu for the spectacular Awards Dinner to be led at the London Heathrow T5 Hilton and suggested that some of our members might like to donate their product for a selection of shellfish starters for the evening’s menu.
Chances like this, to really push the quality, provenance and traceability of our produce, both from wild capture and aquaculture sectors, rarely come with such passion and enthusiasm, so naturally we are delighted to agree and having canvassed members countrywide, an eclectic and diverse range of UK shellfish was proposed as ingredients for what proved to be a truly memorable and worthwhile occasion.
Three hundred fine oysters from Jersey, thirty kilos of St Austell Bay mussels from Fowey, twenty kilos of picked Devon crab meat, twenty kilos of Scottish trawl-caught langoustine tails, twenty five kilos of East coast cockle and whelks, thiirty kilos of Lowestoft brown shrimp and twenty kilos of South coast clams, made their way to London to the kitchens at Cafe Spice Namaste, where Cyrus and his team lovingly (and rather laboriously in the case of the shrimps) prepped everything ready for the big night.
Three hundred guests arrived at the T5 Hilton to be personally greeted by the Zest Quest Team and following a champagne reception and canapés prepared by the students, the Awards Ceremony was duly conducted and the winner announced. This year it was the turn of students from the University of West London to take the honours, seeing off stiff competition from Colchester Institute, North Hertfordshire College, Sheffield Hallam University, The Sheffield College, and Westminster Kingsway College, in a Grand Finale, ‘cook off’ judged that day.
The winners are due to fly out to Hanoi on an all expenses paid cultural and culinary tour of Vietnamese cuisine, having impressed the judges with their Sri Lankan-inspired recipes in the final.
Needless to say, the Awards Dinner menu was exceptional and with SAGB Project and Business Development Consultant Mike Warner and renowned Scottish langoustine fisherman and entrepreneur, Jimmy Buchan of ‘Trawlermen’ fame representing SAGB, the night was judged a huge success with Cyrus announcing introducing both to the guests and applauding the involvement of SAGB and the incredibly important role UK shellfish has to play in kitchens and on menus around the country.
Showcased to perfection, the shellfish starter menu consisted of:
Oyster in Soy Ginger and chilli
Piri-Piri Pickled Whelks
Langoustine & Hen Crab Mayonnaise A la Bombay
Brown Shrimp & Peanut Chutney in Choux (an eclair)
Marinated Mussel in Olive Oil Garlic, Choriso and paprika
Clams in Fresh Coconut A’la Marie Kiteria
Incredible food, beautifully presented and with an Indian flair only Chef Cyrus could master, adorned our plates. Sensational flavours, and created with such imagination, it was truly refreshing to enjoy home-produced shellfish species that we know and love so well, represented in a totally innovative way and in such a different style to our more staple British recipes.
Food for both thought and opportunity. There are so many options when it comes to shellfish and we produce the best in the world. Lets hope we can continue to entice UK chefs, caterers and consumers to embrace more of it!