Best ambassadors announced at launch of new brood in Marlborough

The inaugural winners of Ōra King Salmon’s Ōra Awards have been announced at the brand’s celebration of the new Ōra King brood at Cloudy Bay’s Cellar Door in Blenheim.

And included in the four awards is a young New Zealand chef recently awarded a coveted Michelin star.

Matt Lambert from New York’s Musket Room – which picked up the treasured French culinary excellence star just a few weeks ago – takes home the Ōra King Best Ambassador International award.

The domestic award for best Ōra King ambassador has been won by Mark Southon from Auckland’s The Foodstore while the award for best Ōra King Dish in New Zealand has gone to Makoto Tokuyama from Cocoro, also from the City of Sails.

The Ōra Award for best international dish has gone to German chef Marco Akuzun from Top Air Restaurant in Stuttgart.

Ōra King Salmon – based in the Top of the South – established the Ōra awards to recognise outstanding contributions from chefs working with Ōra King. Ōra King is New Zealand King Salmon’s premium food service brand produced exclusively for fine dining restaurants in New Zealand and offshore.

NZ King Salmon CEO Grant Rosewarne says the lunch celebrates the new Ōra King brood about to be released to chefs around the world.

Ōra King represents a commitment to quality founded on a classical breeding programme two decades ago. It is built on seven generations of brood stock and 90 salmon families evaluated against standards of excellence with only the best carried forward to the subsequent generation.

“At the same time, we wanted to celebrate the achievements of those in the food service sector who have embraced the Ōra King philosophy and demonstrated its wonderful traits to fine diners from the United States to Germany and here in our heartland, New Zealand,” Mr Rosewarne says.

Ōra King has been appreciated by more than 400 chefs and restaurants globally and in New Zealand.

Guests at the Long Lunch enjoyed a superb five course spread prepared by three renowned chefs. Cooking alongside Lambert were Daniel Wilson from Melbourne’s Huxtable and Nick Honeyman who runs both The Commons and Everybody’s Izakaya in Auckland.

Co-owner and executive chef at New York restaurant The Musket Room, Lambert draws inspiration from his Kiwi heritage and he partners them with his passion for locally sourced product.

Wilson studied in the US before moving to Melbourne and has worked in New York before starting Huxtable with two partners. The restaurant features small plates and shared items influenced by the cuisine of Europe and South East Asia.

South African born Honeyman trained under French greats Alain Passard and Pascal Barbot, then made his home in New Zealand in 2009. He’s been making waves ever since and now heads up esteemed Auckland eateries The Commons and Everybody’s Izakaya.

The trio’s outstanding Ōra King long lunch menu featured their take on fresh Marlborough ingredients. After canapés including belly of Ōra King, Cloudy Bay clams and Tio Point oysters, each chef served up a course featuring Ōra King salmon complemented by Cloudy Bay wines.

Honeyman’s Sashimi Ōra King featured a salmon frame congee and local flŌra while Lambert’s cured salmon dish was accompanied by grains along with apple and wasabi. Wilson brought together a dish combining vanilla confit salmon smoked oyster cream and saffron braised leeks with local mussels and clams and upland cress.

The full Ōra Awards results are:

Best Ambassador – New Zealand

Mark Southon, The Foodstore, Auckland.

Mark has been a passionate and proactive ambassador for Ōra King at his Auckland restaurant the Foodstore. On his menu Mark features as a regular item Ōra King Salmon pan fried with bubble & squeak with saffron sauce. He has recently created an Ōra King Beetroot Gravlax dish for New Zealand fashion week. Ōra King was showcased on the recent TV series The Foodstore Gone Wild and the two special dinners that followed with a showstopping dish based on a 5kg salt crusted Ōra King salmon. Mark has also created an Ōra King dish for a demonstration at Taste for the Restaurant Association.

Best Ambassador – International

Matt Lambert, The Musket Room, New York

Matt has been an outstanding ambassador for Ōra King in his adopted city of New York. As a result, he was NZ King Salmon’s first choice of chef to bring to New Zealand for the Long Lunch. The Musket Room is a modern New Zealand restaurant and as such Matt is able to use the restaurant as an excellent platform to show off Kiwi produce – including Ōra King. Despite running a busy and highly renowned restaurant recently awarded its first Michelin Star, Matt dedicated a week of his valuable time to visit New Zealand for the Ōra King long lunch putting numerous hours into preparing for the event.

Best Ōra King Dish – New Zealand

Makoto Tokuyama, Cocoro, Auckland

Makoto used Ōra King in so many ways this year it proved difficult to decide which one should be a winner. He truly excelled with an Ōra King degustation menu prepared for a handful of top Auckland chefs earlier this year. From start to finish, Makoto wowed the diners with brilliantly cooked and presented dishes. However, for truly outstanding originality and pulling off the unthinkable, his Ōra King salmon head cartilage ceviche presented as part of an appetiser selection to start the degustation – known as “Hizunamasu” in Japan – was a winner. It vied with the finishing flourish – a dessert of Persimmon and sweet salmon caviar with Japanese roasted green tea Hojicha ice cream.

Best Ōra King Dish – International

Marco Akuzun, Top Air Restaurant, Stuttgart, Germany

Raw Ōra King in “Blutwurst-Style” (Black Pudding) by Akuzan proved to be the most impressive international Ōra King dish. Top Air holds 1 Michelin star and in October 2013 Marco was nominated as ‘newcomer of the year’ in Germany. Intricacy of detail in the dish, stunning presentation and the particular twist using Black Pudding in the local regional style is what made this the winner.