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.


Town Tonic, Christchurch
Dish: “Mother Nature”
Inspired by “Morning in a Pine Forest” by Ivan Shishkin and Konstantin Savitsky

Robert Sies is the youngest of the Ōra King Award New Zealand semi-finalists, and has only been in the industry for three years – starting out as a dishwasher. Since then, he’s worked at Hotel Montreal and Saggio di Vino in Christchurch, where he started his apprenticeship with Service IQ. After taking a short break, he has resumed his apprenticeship at Town Tonic.

This is the first time Sies has entered any culinary competition, making his semi-finalist placing all the more impressive. His dish was inspired by “Morning in a Pine Forest” by Ivan Shishkin and Konstantin Savitsky. “I wanted to replicate a piece of art that was earthy and natural which individuals can interpret in their own unique way,” he explained. “I’ve interpreted my dish around this piece of art which depicts bears lost within their own habitat. I think this reflects our lives as humans and that we can often get caught up in our own surroundings.”

Sies represented the components of the painting within the dish. The salmon has been cured for four days in rosemary, pine needles and honey represent the bears, while the tree trunks are represented with dried salmon skin. Pine nut butter brings the forest floor to life and the forest mist has been created with a cucumber and citrus foam.