From top left to bottom right: Chetan Pangam, Makoto Tokuyama, Mark Diu, Antony Page, Mark McAllister, Phil Clark.

This year’s Ōra King Awards saw a record number of entries, all competing under the theme of ‘Sustain’. Using their sustainability story as creative inspiration, chefs from around New Zealand have been narrowed down to just six, who represent the Ōra King Awards semi-finalists. The semi-finalists are:

  • Antony Page – 50 Bistro at The George Hotel, Christchurch
  • Chetan Pangam – One80 Restaurant, Wellington
  • Makoto Tokuyama – Cocoro, Auckland
  • Mark Diu – Avon Valley Lodge, Blenheim
  • Mark McAllister – Private Chef, Auckland
  • Phil Clark – Phil’s Kitchen, Auckland

Anne-Marie Friis, New Zealand King Salmon’s marketing manager foodservice, said that the number and calibre of the entries demonstrate the connection people felt to the theme of sustainability. “Sustainability is crucial to everything we do at Ōra King and indeed is central to the whole food industry,” she said. “This year’s theme inspired chefs to showcase their personal experience with the topic, and we saw a real range of dishes coming through.”

The theme saw not just sustainable food practice. Friis described the way in which people introduced sustainability as a term that can be used to represent healthy practices in the workplace, as well. “There were also entries that acknowledged the mental sustainability of restaurant teams, while other chefs referenced how childhood memories inspired them to look after the environment for future generations. There was such a variety, which made judging particularly challenging.”

From here, Geoff Scott, a leading New Zealand chef, and Lauraine Jacobs, food writer and restaurant critic, will visit the finalists and hear their stories and inspiration in person. Jacobs said, “Each year the standard of entries goes up and this year is no different. Sustainability is far more than just a buzzword in the hospitality industry. It is clear these semi-finalists are chefs who have combined a nuanced understanding of sustainability and have successfully combined that with innovation, imagination and technique.”

Three finalists will be announced September 16th who will then go to an Ōra King celebration in October. There they will compete on a global scale, against chefs from North America, Australia and Japan, for the Best Ōra King Dish in their respective countries. The best entries from throughout the competition will also be featured in a book published later this year.

Phil Clark’s Dish

Antony Page’s Dish

Mark Diu’s Dish

Mark McAllister’s Dish

Makoto Tokuyama’s Dish

Chetan Pangam’s Dish