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 Ora 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 Ora’s competition. Chefs from around the world were challenged to enter their Best Ora 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 Ora King Dish NZ are:

  • Marc Soper – Wharekauhau Country Estate, Featherston:

Japanese Inspired Ora King Salmon with wasabi peas, pickled rice, soy, caviar, kelp, cured duck egg & bone broth.




  • Mark McAllister – Welcome Eatery, Auckland:

King of Diamonds – Ora King Salmon four ways with diamond shell clams, yuzu, zucchini, cauliflower, wasabi and karengo.




  • Makoto Tokuyama – Cocoro, Auckland:

Map of Japan Deconstructed Sushi (main image)-  Aged Ora King salmon toro, Ora King ikura, sushi rice crackers, dried NZ giant kelp and wakame, nori soy puree, NZ barley straw smoked Ora King fin and scale powder, Lot 8 yuzu olive oil snow, sakura gel.


  • Shaun (Himanshu) Tyagi – Harbourside Ocean Bar Grill, Auckland:

 Koji Zuke Ora King Salmon – Ora 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 Ora King Ambassador New Zealand. Although no stranger to the Ora King Awards competition, this is the first time Makoto has been awarded the Ambassador title. In 2013 Makoto won Best Ora King Dish NZ, and was then shortlisted as a finalist for Best Ora 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 Ora 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 Ora King Dish Australia are:

  • Christopher Bonello – MPD Steak Kitchen, Victoria
  • Joshua Askew – Swissotel Sydney
  • Sean Collett – Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron

The finalists for Best Ora King Dish Japan are:

  • Ryusei Matsuda – Nadaman Akasaka Zipangu, Tokyo
  • Shinichi Ikeda – Hotela Okura, Tokyo
  • Yosuke Kanai – Hotel Granvia, Osaka

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

Sydney based chef Jason Roberts is appointed Best Ora King Ambassador Australia and Mike Ellis of Charlie Palmer Steak, DC is appointed Best Ora 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 Ora King salmon experience using Japanese cooking methods.”

“The finalist dishes represent the chefs’ respect and passion for Ora 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 Ora 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 Ora 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.

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