Back for its sixth year, the Ōra King Awards recognise the outstanding contributions from chefs working with Ōra King – New Zealand King Salmon’s premium foodservice brand. The theme of this year’s awards, Inspired by Art, provided plenty of scope for creativity. The finalists will be announced on Monday.
50 Bistro at the George Hotel, Christchurch
Dish: “4 Degrees of Separation”
Inspired by the Bill Hammond series “Fisher Finder”
Antony Page hasn’t entered the Ōra King Awards before but has long been a fan of the brand.
“It is a beautiful premium product which I have used in a few of my dishes before,” he said. “I was excited at the opportunity to take the concept of art and tell a story with my dish.”
Page started his career at Pescatore, a contemporary seafood restaurant at The George Hotel in Christchurch, before opening Fiddlesticks in the city, No. 4 Bar and Restaurant in Merivale and recently Rogues of Rotherham’s in Riccarton. He has since returned to The George, now as executive chef at 50 Bistro.
For Page, the uniqueness of Ōra King salmon lies in its quality. “There’s also a great deal of care and attention to the selection process which has an impact on the final condition of the product,” he explained. “From a business perspective, I’ve been impressed by the support of the Ōra King team who deliver this amazing product to chefs and kitchens around the world. It’s quite easy to forget that this beautiful product comes from the Marlborough Sounds.”
Page’s initial concept and artwork was very different to his final piece, and it was his father-in-law who helped him with his final creation – by virtue of a special personal connection.
“After talking about the Ōra King Awards it prompted us to check out the large art collection we have here at The George Hotel. I happened to mention the Bill Hammond collection, and by chance Gary (my father-in-law) said he used to live in Lyttleton back in the 70’s where Bill Hammond was based. He knew him personally, so that’s really where this connection started. Hence the title “4 Degrees of Separation” – from Bill to Gary, Gary to his daughter (my wife) to myself.”
The series of Hammond images were also appropriately named “Fish Finder” and a lot of Bill Hammond’s work resembles a primal and barren landscape. It was a ‘survival food’ premise which led Page to his final dish. The main components he chose has been inspired by a natural, ‘washed up on the beach’ theme, trying to reference elements or ingredients that would be found on a remote sub-Antarctic island. Rich salmon represents the deep ocean, mussels and eel from the beach’s edge or rivers and a selection of coastal greens foraged from the grass. He also added hāngi potatoes to reference Māori settlements and a saffron mussel emulsion, adding a modern link as well as playing an important role in balancing the entire dish.
“I was cautious not to create a literal translation of an art image,” he explained. “Instead, I let myself be inspired by the very natural direction of the Bill Hammond images, the ease of the story and the impact this had on me as a chef. From there, one could say the dish created itself.”