Ōra King has named chefs Mark Diu (Avon Valley Lodge, Blenheim), Makoto Tokuyama (Cocoro, Auckland) and Phil Clark (Phil’s Kitchen, Auckland) as the three New Zealand finalists progressing to this year’s Ora King Salmon awards ceremony held in Nelson.

International chefs from North America, Australia and Japan will also join the New Zealand finalists to compete for the Best Ōra King Dish in their respective countries. The seventh annual Ōra King Awards recognise the outstanding creations of chefs around the world who love and choose to work with Ōra King salmon.

Chefs embraced this year’s theme ‘Sustain’ with an impressive number of entrants communicating their own sustainability stories and creativity through an Ōra King salmon dish. During the past month New Zealand chef Geoff Scott, alongside leading food writer and restaurant critic Lauraine Jacobs, visited the six New Zealand semi-finalists to taste their dishes and learn about each chef’s personal stance on sustainability.

South Island Chef Mark Diu presented Mountain to the Ocean (Ōra King salmon head and miso broth, grilled collar, manuka honey and citrus-cured salmon loin, sashimi belly and crispy skin tail) which was considerately crafted from fresh produce grown, raised and harvested on site and locally sourced.

Makoto Tokuyama’s Reconstructed Ōra King Salmon Ochazuke (Hakata-Oshi made with Ōra King salmon sashimi, daikon Japanese radish, dry seaweed, sesame and chives, Hizunamazu with paua, scampi and sea grapes, dashi broth) called on his memories of growing up in a Zen Buddhist temple. The ‘Washoku’ philosophy of respecting ingredients, sparked his decision to use a locally sourced Ōra King salmon in its entirety. Tokuyama believes that we must all embark on a journey to practise sustainability little by little every day and that through small actions we can build a metaphorical bridge to a beautiful and bountiful future for generations to come. To symbolise this idea, he visually referenced Auckland’s iconic harbour bridge in the plating of his dish.

Drawing inspiration from living on a small island surrounded by water, Phil Clark produced Ocean, Seabed, Land and Rivers (Juniper-cured Ōra King salmon, broccoli puree, deep-fried quinoa with pumpkin, sunflower seeds and spring onion, parsley emulsion, leek oil and crispy locusts). The Auckland-based chef formed an edible ‘plastic bag washed up on the seashore’ from fish stock jelly filled with Ōra king caviar to demonstrate the importance of taking care of our oceans, seabed, land and rivers by reducing the use of plastic.

“We believe that every industry has a responsibility to implement sustainable practices, and that the food industry specifically has great potential to be a positive force,” says New Zealand King Salmon Marketing Manager Foodservice, Anne-Marie Friis. “For this reason, we called upon our international chef network to share how they are taking sustainability seriously in their restaurants, and it’s a delight to be able to reward the top chefs who entered for their important work and commitments to this cause.” All three finalists will be flown to the Nelson-Marlborough region for a four-day, all-expenses paid celebration, from 13 to 17 October with the winners announced during the Ōra King Awards ceremony on October 15.

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