Smorgasbord dished up by Ōra King Awards 2016
ŌRA KING AWARDS
Geoff Scott, Marc Soper & Jemma McCowan, Photo: Richard Briggs
Smorgasbord dished up by Ōra King Awards 2016
With a dish inspired by the Marlborough region in which he grew up, Wharekauhau Country Estate chef Marc Soper has been named the winner of the Best Ōra King Dish New Zealand 2016. The hotly contested global Ōra King Awards also saw last year’s Best Ōra King Dish International winner Elijah Holland emerge as the 2016 Best Ōra King Ambassador International.
Soper wowed the judges with his dish of Chilean guava berry and brown sugar spiced Ōra King salmon, with smoked belly and yoghurt mousse, grapefruit, rhubarb and fennel salad, tree fungi crisps, spiced grapefruit reduction, soy and caviar.
Judges Geoff Scott and Anna King Shahab were delighted with Soper's culinary masterpiece commenting, "Marc had clearly put the 'aroha' into the dish, even before its creation. The dish composition encourages the diner to savour every flavour and texture, and delivers a delicacy and richness that echoes the salmon as the hero."
The other winners revealed today at an awards ceremony and celebratory lunch at The Nelson Club are:
• Best Ōra King Ambassador New Zealand: Chetan Pangam, One80° Restaurant, Wellington
• Best Ōra King Dish Australia: Mark Bashinsky, ARIA, Brisbane
• Best Ōra King Dish USA: Nathan Gould, O Ya, Boston
A new Ambassador award introduced for the first time this year; Te Pūkenga Matua, was given to Matt Lambert. A three-time consecutive winner of the Best Ōra King Ambassador International award and founder of Michelin-starred New York restaurant The Musket Room, the award acknowledges Lambert’s outstanding contributions to Ōra King salmon since its 2011 launch.
Lambert is a fitting winner; ‘Pūkenga’ means a professional, a skilled expert in a particular field, a lecturer, a storehouse of knowledge, while a ‘Matua’ is the head of an organisation or family, the main or a senior person.
Chefs from the US, Australia and all over New Zealand attended the awards lunch, and were treated to a salmon extravaganza prepared by three of last years’ winners, Thomas Barta from Harbourside Ocean Bar Grill, Elijah Holland of Nature’s Pick and Nick Honeyman from Paris Butter.
New Zealand King Salmon General Manager Marketing, Jemma McCowan congratulates the winners, particularly as this year saw stronger competition than ever with entry numbers doubling those of 2015.
"We've seen some remarkable creativity and flair with all of the entries this year. Location and seasonality has played a part alongside the entrant's own experience and cuisine background - in the USA and Queensland, we've seen lighter dishes to reflect the warmer weather, whereas in New Zealand, the winter chill has contributed to ingredient choices and heartier styles. Marc has managed to impress judges who have admitted their fussiness in picking a winner; in closely analysing every ingredient and assessing whether or not it enhanced the salmon, his elaborate creation has won on every element.”
McCowan makes special mention of Lambert, a Kiwi in New York who is proud of his roots and who loves to showcase produce from his homeland. “Matt’s menu at The Musket Room consistently features Ōra King dishes and with his dedication to including the best New Zealand ingredients in his many industry projects, he truly is Te Pūkenga Matua who holds a special place in the Ōra King family.”
This year marks the fourth anniversary of The Ōra’s, which recognise outstanding contributions from chefs working withŌra King - New Zealand King Salmon’s premium foodservice brand. Scott and King Shahab were impressed, noting that ‘each piece of salmon was treated beautifully, like the star of every dish’. Their simple message of ‘I would go back and eat all of the dishes again’ attests to the high quality of entrants.
Highlighting the variety of dishes and techniques this year, the judges were also pleased to note an increase in the number of younger chefs competing, though the value of experience ultimately shone through in the winners.
Ōra King is grown in Marlborough exclusively for fine dining restaurants in New Zealand and overseas.
2016 Ōra King Awards
The fourth annual Ōra King Awards (The Ōra’s) recognise outstanding contributions from chefs working with Ōra King - New Zealand King Salmon’s premium foodservice brand produced exclusively for fine dining restaurants in New Zealand and overseas. There are New Zealand and international citations for both Best Ōra King Ambassador and Best Ōra King Dish. The ambassador awards are decided solely by Ōra King’s global team. Nominations for the best dish awards are made by chefs throughout the country and the final judging is handed over to industry experts.
About Ōra King
Ōra King salmon is a best-of-breed king salmon developed specifically for the food service industry. Ōra King is a result of a commitment to quality founded on a classic breeding programme born in the top of New Zealand’s South Island two decades ago. All of the company’s husbandry and breeding, everything which Ōra King represents, is dedicated to the professional chef. It is the best of the best. Ōra King is to salmon as Wagyu is to beef.