Entries are now open for the fifth Ōra King Awards

Some of the world’s finest chefs will travel to Japan this spring to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the annual Ōra King Awards.

One of the most prestigious culinary highlights on the professional chef’s calendar, the Ōra King Awards (The Ōra’s) recognises outstanding contributions from chefs working with Ōra King salmon, New Zealand King Salmon’s premium foodservice brand.

Japan’s multi-faceted food culture

Unesco recently added Japanese cuisine – known in Japan as washoku – to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list. This puts it equal to French cuisine, the only other national culinary tradition to be so honoured. A journey around Japan is said to reveal the wisdom of Unesco’s decision: every corner of the country boasts something unique and special to eat or drink.

With increasing numbers of chefs taking inspiration from Japanese cuisine, and Ōra King salmon steadily gaining popularity in Japan, Ōra King has chosen to celebrate its fifth annual awards ceremony in the country that is famous for its discerning eye for quality seafood.

NZ food personality and Ōra King Judge Lauraine Jacobs who will be travelling to Japan comments “It’s truly exciting that the Ōra King Awards are to be announced in Japan this year. Japanese chefs are meticulous about ingredients and while it is both encouraging and reassuring to see so many choosing to work with Ōra King, it is even better to consider the impact this will have on raising the profile of both the premium salmon and other beautiful New Zealand produce in Japan and internationally. It is an inspired and astute move and I am really looking forward to returning to Japan again.”

Lauraine Jacobs, along with fellow NZ Judge Geoff Scott, will accompany four lucky chefs from New Zealand, and four chefs from North America and Australia, to Japan. They will embark upon a true Chef’s Tour; an off the tourist trail journey exploring Japanese food culture and cuisine, visiting some of Japan’s most prominent restaurants and artisan producers. The highlight of the trip will be The Ōra’s ceremony in Tokyo.

The four chefs from each country are yet to be decided as Ōra King will take the three Best Ōra King Dish finalists in addition to an Ōra King Ambassador from each country. Entries for the Best Ōra King Dish award are now open.

Ōra King is encouraging chefs from across their markets of New Zealand, Australia, North America and Japan to enter, and New Zealand King Salmon GM Marketing Jemma McCowan hopes the trip will particularly inspire local talent and shine a light on the rich affiliation between both New Zealand and Japan.

“When it comes to cuisine, Japan’s ancient food traditions are an inspiration to our relatively new, but evolving culinary scene in New Zealand. Since our launch in 2011, we’ve seen strong growth of Ōra King salmon in Japan’s high end foodservice category and look forward to giving our best chefs a money can’t buy experience in one of the most fascinating and multifaceted food cultures in the world”.

2017 Ōra King Awards

New to 2017, chefs from around the world are required to create their Best Ōra King dish with a Japanese twist. ‘Japanese twist’ is entirely down to the chef’s interpretation and it may be expressed through ingredients, techniques, presentation or simply inspiration. As ever, the chef has creative license.

This year the Best Ōra King Dish award category has been expanded to include the Japanese market. The Ōra’s see chefs from around the world compete for one of six coveted titles. The full list of awards are:

  • Best Ōra King Ambassador New Zealand
  • Best Ōra King Ambassador International
  • Best Ōra King Dish New Zealand
  • Best Ōra King Dish Australia
  • Best Ōra King Dish North America
  • Best Ōra King Dish Japan

McCowan comments on her admiration for the quality of work entered year-on-year. “Every year I’m blown away by the creativity and innovation from our Ōra King chefs. They love competition and The Ōra’s provide a platform to showcase their creativity, craftsmanship and expertise. It’s a process and experience that embodies innovation and last year our judges were impressed with the increase in entries from younger chefs.”

Call for entries for the 2017 Ōra King Awards will remain open until 31 July.

Chefs are required to submit their entry via a short online form at, which captures information about the dish, such as the chef’s inspiration and techniques used, along with the requirement to submit an accompanying image. The information provided by the chef at this stage is used for initial judging to determine the semi-finalists.

The semi-finalist dishes will then be judged on the following criteria:

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

Finalist chefs invited to Japan will be announced on 18 September.

The awards winners will be named in Japan on 17 October. Terms and conditions for entry can be viewed on the Ōra King website.

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About Ōra King

Ōra King is best-of-breed king salmon developed specifically for the food service industry. Ōra King is the result of a commitment to quality founded on a classic breeding programme born in the top of New Zealand’s South Island two decades ago. All of the company’s husbandry and breeding, everything which Ōra King represents, is dedicated to the professional chef. It is the best of the best. Ōra King is to salmon as Wagyu is to beef.