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Best Ōra King Dish Awards finalists announced


Four New Zealand chefs at the forefront of New Zealand cuisine will travel to Japan this October to participate in the grand finale of the 2017 Ōra King Awards. Joining leading culinary professionals from around the world, they will embark upon a unique gastronomic tour of the country.

New to 2017, the prize of a chef’s tour to Japan was introduced in order to mark the fifth year of the Ōra’s competition. Chefs from around the world were challenged to enter their Best Ōra King Dish with a Japanese twist.

The stunning variety of finalist dishes demonstrates the inventiveness of their creators and wowed the senses of the New Zealand judges, Lauraine Jacobs and Geoff Scott. Scott describes the standard of Japanese-themed dishes as exceptional in technique, creativity and presentation.

The finalists for Best Ōra King Dish NZ are:

Marc Soper - Wharekauhau Country Estate, Featherston: Japanese Inspired Ōra King Salmon with wasabi peas, pickled rice, soy, caviar, kelp, cured duck egg & bone broth.


Mark McAllister – Welcome Eatery, Auckland: King of Diamonds - Ōra King Salmon four ways with diamond shell clams (above), yuzu, zucchini, cauliflower, wasabi and karengo.

Makoto Tokuyama – Cocoro, Auckland: Map of Japan Deconstructed Sushi (below) - Aged Ōra King salmon toro, Ōra King ikura, sushi rice crackers, dried NZ giant kelp and wakame, nori soy puree, NZ barley straw smoked Ōra King fin and scale powder, Lot 8 yuzu olive oil snow, sakura gel.

Shaun (Himanshu) Tyagi – Harbourside Ocean Bar Grill, Auckland: Koji Zuke Ōra King Salmon (photo at top) - Ōra King belly, sanpei iru, sea beet sauce, charred NZ wild leek, compressed cucumber, NZ pepper shichimi, aged quail egg, Secret Garden wasabi leaves.

Makoto Tokuyama of Cocoro has also been appointed as Best Ōra King Ambassador New Zealand. Although no stranger to the Ōra King Awards competition, this is the first time Makoto has been awarded the Ambassador title. In 2013 Makoto won Best Ōra King Dish NZ, and was then shortlisted as a finalist for Best Ōra King Ambassador in both 2014 and 2015.


General Manager Marketing at New Zealand King Salmon, Jemma McCowan comments:     

“Makoto has been with us since the inception of Ōra King. We’re honoured to have a chef of his calibre support us continuously with such enthusiasm, commitment and culinary genius.”

The finalists for the Best Ōra King Dish Australia are:

Christopher Bonello - MPD Steak Kitchen, Victoria

Joshua Askew - Swissotel Sydney

Sean Collett - Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron

The finalists for Best Ōra King Dish Japan are:

Isozaki Tetsuya – Nadaman Akasaka Zipangu, Tokyo

Shinichi Ikeda – Hotela Okura, Tokyo

Yosuke Kanai – Hotel Granvia, Osaka

The finalists for the Best Ōra King Dish North America will be announced by Ōra King next week.

Sydney based chef Jason Roberts is appointed Best Ōra King Ambassador Australia and Mike Ellis of Charlie Palmer Steak, DC is appointed Best Ōra King Ambassador North America.

Judge Lauraine Jacobs has high praise for every New Zealand semifinalist, and recounts how difficult the final selection was: “Each chef went to extraordinary lengths to enhance the Ōra King salmon experience using Japanese cooking methods.”

“The finalist dishes represent the chefs’ respect and passion for Ōra King salmon as each has combined familiar New Zealand ingredients and traditional Japanese culture and techniques with stunning results.”

The judges will join the NZ, North American and Australian finalists on their trip to Japan for the Awards finale. Adds Jacobs, “I am thrilled to make this journey for a once in a lifetime experience with four extremely talented NZ chefs.”

General Manager Marketing at New Zealand King Salmon, Jemma McCowan is impressed with the results so far.

“Here at Ōra King we always aim for 'ichiban' - the best we possibly can be. I can see a similar ambition from our entrants this year, and they have truly risen to the occasion in creating their Awards dish.

“Adding a Japanese theme to our Awards this year was a nod to this year's destination, but also to acknowledge the deep respect chefs have for the culinary heritage of Japan. Over recent years, we’ve found Japanese cuisine to be a natural inspiration for food service professionals using Ōra King.”

“We knew the challenge would deliver some fantastic culinary moments, and each of our semifinalists have taken the Japanese theme and made it their own."

The final stage of judging will see Scott and Jacobs tasting and assessing the New Zealand finalist dishes a second time, with the ultimate winning dish to be announced this October in Japan.

2017 Ōra King Awards

The fifth 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. Entries for the best dish awards are submitted by chefs throughout the country and the final judging is handed over to industry experts. The winners will be announced in October in Japan.

The Ōra’s, as the awards are colloquially known, see chefs from New Zealand and around the world competing for one of four coveted Best Dish titles. They are:

Best Ōra King Dish New Zealand

Best Ōra King Dish Australia

Best Ōra King Dish North America

Best Ōra King Dish Japan



Individual Ambassador awards will also be presented to an Ōra King chef in three regions. The recipient of these Ambassador awards are decided solely by the Ōra King team, representing the loyalty and dedication the chef has shown to Ōra King over the past year. They are:

Best Ōra King Ambassador New Zealand

Best Ōra King Ambassador Australia

Best Ōra King Ambassador North America


Terms and conditions relating to the Ōra King Awards competition can be viewed on the Ōra King website.

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