Deconstructed sushi presented as a map of Japan and broth inspired by Queenstown’s lakes are among the selected dishes progressing to the second stage of this year’s prestigious Ōra King Awards.

The annual Ōra King Awards competition recognises culinary excellence with dishes incorporating the best-of-breed Ōra King salmon.

In a new theme for 2017, chefs from around the world were challenged to create their best Ōra King dish with a Japanese twist for the chance to join Ōra King on an exclusive chef’s tour of Japan in October.

The semifinalists for the Best Ōra King Dish New Zealand include Adam Harrison from Amisfield, Queenstown, Aurelien Agbadje from Boulcott Street Bistro, Wellington, David Bowers from Flatwhite Café, Waihi Beach, Makoto Tokuyama from Cocoro, Auckland, Mark McAllister from Welcome Eatery, Auckland, Shaun (Himanshu) Tyagi from Harbourside Ocean Bar Grill, Auckland, and Stuart Rogan from White + Wong’s, Auckland.

Jemma McCowan, New Zealand King Salmon GM marketing said this year has yet again drawn an exceptional standard of Ōra King dishes. “We hope the competitive spirit of the Ōra’s is contributing to raising the bar for New Zealand’s cuisine scene. We’re aiming to encourage the highest standards of technique, creativity and presentation and our Kiwi chefs are truly delivering on this.”

“It was difficult, but we’ve managed to narrow down almost 100 spectacular New Zealand entries to just eight semifinalists who will go through to the next phase.”

The next phase sees food writer Lauraine Jacobs and respected veteran chef and restaurateur Geoff Scott travel the country, from 21 August – 10 September, to taste the semifinalist dishes. Each dish will be evaluated against the following criteria:

  • Dish composition
  • Taste
  • Execution and technique
  • X Factor

Geoff Scott commented “Together with Lauraine, I am truly excited to meet the chefs behind these meticulously designed semifinalist dishes. The real highlight of course will be to see these Japanese inspired creations and to taste the magic that has been crafted with Ōra King salmon.

“ The produce and inspiration behind the eight semifinalist dishes this year is mouth watering – from historic 200 year old soup recipes to the blending of cultures and cuisines, and from wild plants foraged from the lakeside and coastal shorelines, to New Zealand grown and artisan made Japanese ingredients – including Yuzu, Saké, Katsuobushi and Shichimi. I am anticipating the dishes this year are going to be quite exceptional.”

The Ōra’s, as the awards are colloquially known, see chefs from New Zealand and around the world competing for one of four coveted Best Dish titles.

Individual Ambassador awards will also be presented to an Ōra King chef in three regions. The recipient of these Ambassador awards are decided solely by the Ōra King team, representing the loyalty and dedication the chef has shown to Ōra King over the past year in New Zealand, Australia and North America.

The three New Zealand Best Dish finalists and the Best Ambassador winner will be announced on 18 September. These four chefs will be invited to join their international peers in Japan, with the Best Ōra King Dish Award winners revealed at the Ōra King Awards lunch, held in Tokyo on 17 October.