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.
MARK WILSON DIU
Saint Clair Vineyard Kitchen, Marlborough
Dish: “Ōra King Salmon with the Elements of Life”
Inspired by Pou Whenua
Mark Wilson Diu’s Ōra King award entry was inspired by a Pou Whenua carved by a close friend, Reg Thompsett. The carvings on the ‘Pou Whenua’ tells a story of the four elements of life – fire, earth, water and air.
“I’ve used Ōra King as the centrepiece of my dish, surrounding it with the four elements of life, inspired by Pou Whenua,” he explained. “I’ve also incorporated the use of Maori ingredients to the dish which we’ve foraged locally.”
Wilson Diu admires Ōra King salmon’s unique, delicate flavour and soft-buttery texture.
“Furthermore, Ōra King salmon is local, raised in the beautiful clear waters of the Pelorus Sounds in the Marlborough region – a place I call home.”
Wilson Diu has been a chef for seven years, currently at the Saint Clair Vineyard Kitchen, but has always had a passion for food. “Growing up in the Philippines, there were annual fiestas celebrating Philippine culture which would always revolve around a communal feast – cooking and food brings our people together. There were so many different varieties of food, some which had Spanish and Chinese influences but was full of local flavour.”
In 2006, Wilson Diu moved to New Zealand and started working in the hospitality industry as front-of-house. Wanting to get a better understanding of the business he decided that he should learn the basics in the kitchen, and enrolled in an apprenticeship in the culinary arts.
“Early on in my course, I realised that I got such reward and enjoyment from cooking and decided to carry on my career as a chef,” he said. “After completing my training at the Intercontinental Hotel in Wellington, my wife and I (with our children) decided to move back to Blenheim to be closer to our families. Since then I’ve worked in a few restaurants around Marlborough, including Arbour restaurant.”