Smorgasbord dished up by Ōra King Awards 2016

With a dish inspired by the Marlborough region in which he grew up, Wharekauhau Country Estate chef Marc Soper has been named the winner of the Best Ōra King Dish New Zealand 2016. The hotly contested global Ōra King Awards also saw last year’s Best Ōra King Dish International winner Elijah Holland emerge as the 2016 Best Ōra King Ambassador International.

Soper wowed the judges with his dish of Chilean guava berry and brown sugar spiced Ōra King salmon, with smoked belly and yoghurt mousse, grapefruit, rhubarb and fennel salad, tree fungi crisps, spiced grapefruit reduction, soy and caviar.


Judges Geoff Scott and Anna King Shahab were delighted with Soper’s culinary masterpiece commenting, “Marc had clearly put the ‘aroha’ into the dish, even before its creation. The dish composition encourages the diner to savour every flavour and texture, and delivers a delicacy and richness that echoes the salmon as the hero.”

The other winners revealed today at an awards ceremony and celebratory lunch at The Nelson Club are:

  • Best Ōra King Ambassador New Zealand: Chetan Pangam, One80° Restaurant, Wellington
  • Best Ōra King Dish Australia: Mark Bashinsky, ARIA, Brisbane
  • Best Ōra King Dish USA: Nathan Gould, O Ya, Boston

A new Ambassador award introduced for the first time this year; Te Pūkenga Matua, was given to Matt Lambert. A three-time consecutive winner of the Best Ōra King Ambassador International award and founder of Michelin-starred New York restaurant The Musket Room, the award acknowledges Lambert’s outstanding contributions to Ōra King salmon since its 2011 launch.

Lambert is a fitting winner; ‘Pūkenga’ means a professional, a skilled expert in a particular field, a lecturer, a storehouse of knowledge, while a ‘Matua’ is the head of an organisation or family, the main or a senior person.

Chefs from the US, Australia and all over New Zealand attended the awards lunch, and were treated to a salmon extravaganza prepared by three of last years’ winners, Thomas Barta from Harbourside Ocean Bar Grill, Elijah Holland of Nature’s Pick and Nick Honeyman from Paris Butter.

New Zealand King Salmon General Manager Marketing, Jemma McCowan congratulates the winners, particularly as this year saw stronger competition than ever with entry numbers doubling those of 2015.

“We’ve seen some remarkable creativity and flair with all of the entries this year. Location and seasonality has played a part alongside the entrant’s own experience and cuisine background – in the USA and Queensland, we’ve seen lighter dishes to reflect the warmer weather, whereas in New Zealand, the winter chill has contributed to ingredient choices and heartier styles. Marc has managed to impress judges who have admitted their fussiness in picking a winner; in closely analysing every ingredient and assessing whether or not it enhanced the salmon, his elaborate creation has won on every element.”

McCowan makes special mention of Lambert, a Kiwi in New York who is proud of his roots and who loves to showcase produce from his homeland. “Matt’s menu at The Musket Room consistently features Ōra King dishes and with his dedication to including the best New Zealand ingredients in his many industry projects, he truly is Te Pūkenga Matua who holds a special place in the Ōra King family.”

This year marks the fourth anniversary of The Ōra’s, which recognise outstanding contributions from chefs working with Ōra King – New Zealand King Salmon’s premium foodservice brand. Scott and King Shahab were impressed, noting that ‘each piece of salmon was treated beautifully, like the star of every dish’. Their simple message of ‘I would go back and eat all of the dishes again’ attests to the high quality of entrants.

Highlighting the variety of dishes and techniques this year, the judges were also pleased to note an increase in the number of younger chefs competing, though the value of experience ultimately shone through in the winners.

Ōra King is grown in Marlborough exclusively for fine dining restaurants in New Zealand and overseas.

Issued for Ōra King by Pead PR


Contact:Rachael Everitt, Pead PR, P: 09 551 2374, M: 021 658 3043, E:

About the chefs

Marc SoperChef Marc Soper is currently employed as Executive Chef at Wharekauhau Country Estate located in Palliser Bay in Featherston, Wairarapa. He is currently Conseiller Culinaire for La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. Previous local positions include Executive Chef at The Wellesley Boutique Hotel, Executive Chef for Compass Group.

Marc has won and held many competition titles for his culinary skills throughout NZ, including:

Wellington Chef of the Capital 2011, 2015, 2016

NZ Chef of the Nation winner 2005, 2016

New Zealand Beef and Lamb ambassador 2015.

Elijah Holland

At the time of winning the 2015 Best Ōra King Dish International award, Elijah Holland was the Head Chef at The Powder Keg in Sydney and a self­-proclaimed forager. He has since pursued this passion for horticulture and is part-owner of three farms across the state of NSW. These farms, along with his foraging provide the produce for Nature’s Pick, his new business. Nature’s Pick supplies seasonal, wild ingredients to Sydney restaurants and also catering for private events. Most recently Elijah worked with Rene Redzepi fulfilling the role of official forager for Noma Australia.

Chetan Pangam

Executive chef and F&B manager at the One80° Restaurant, Copthorne Hotel, Wellington. Chetan started his chef career in 5 star hotels of Bangalore and New Delhi and moved to New Zealand in 2002. He has a passion for cooking and a style described as ‘modern New Zealand with Indian French influences’ using local and artisan purveyors. Chetan has worked in chef roles throughout NZ and has been at the Copthorne since 2011. As the person in charge of One80° Restaurant, the lounge bar, in-room dining, out catering, three conference rooms and 118 rooms, Chetan’s organisational and people skills are pivotal to the smooth running of the food and beverage services at the hotel. Chetan is also president of NZ Chefs Association in Wellington.

Mark Bashinsky

Mark has worked within the ARIA family for over a decade. In 2005, he began as an apprentice at ARIA Sydney, before moving to Brisbane in 2007 to assist with the opening of ARIA Brisbane. Since then, Mark has worked his way up to Sous Chef at ARIA Brisbane. In 2008, Mark completed a four-month stage across America, and in 2012 he was awarded the 2015 Hostplus Hospitality scholarship which saw Mark travel to Paris, San Francisco and Tokyo to stage at some of the top restaurants around the world.

Nathan Gould

Nathan Gould is currently the chef de cuisine at James Beard Award winning restaurant, O Ya, in Boston, Massachusetts, where he is developing Japanese cuisine and integrating local foods into the already established restaurant.

Nathan has held positions as the Executive Chef of The Historic Harbor View Hotel, and The Beach Plum Inn. An internship with the Food Network gave Gould the opportunity to work alongside celebrity chefs like Charlie Trotter, Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, and Sarah Moulton, while cultivating a wealth of experience.

Matt Lambert

Born and raised in Auckland, three-time winner of Best International Ōra King Ambassador and this year’s inaugural Te Pūkenga Matua winner worked alongside Michael Meredith at The Grove before relocating to the U.S. and opening The Musket Room in New York in May 2013.

The restaurant was awarded a Michelin star just four months after opening and retained the rating again in 2014 and 2015.

2016 Ōra King Awards

The fourth annual Ōra King Awards (The Ōra’s) recognise outstanding contributions from chefs working with Ōra King – New Zealand King Salmon’s premium foodservice brand produced exclusively for fine dining restaurants in New Zealand and overseas. There are New Zealand and international citations for both Best Ōra King Ambassador and Best Ōra King Dish. The ambassador awards are decided solely by Ōra King’s global team. Nominations for the best dish awards are made by chefs throughout the country and the final judging is handed over to industry experts.

About Ōra King

Ōra King salmon is a best-of-breed king salmon developed specifically for the food service industry. Ōra King is a 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.

About the Judges

About Anna King Shahab

Anna King Shahab writes recipes and other features for a variety of publications including The New Zealand Herald, Food, Cuisine and Metro, as well as working as a judge for several different culinary awards.

About Geoff Scott

Geoff Scott was the Chef-Patron of the much awarded Vinnies Restaurant in Auckland for more than 11 years. His career highlights include working with some of the greatest Michelin starred chefs namely Albert Roux at Le Gavroche in London and Alain Ducasse at ‘Le Louis XV’ in Monaco.