New York-based New Zealand chef Matt Lambert has for the third year in a row been named Best Ōra King Ambassador International. Lambert founded Michelin starred restaurant The Musket Room in New York in 2013.

Of the three other winners revealed today (20 Oct.) at Raetihi Lodge in the stunning Marlborough Sounds, two are from Auckland and one is Sydney-based.

Best Ōra King Ambassador New Zealand is South African-born Nick Honeyman from Auckland.

In the Best Ōra King Dish section, Auckland’s Thomas Barta takes the New Zealand award and Elijah Holland from Sydney the Best International award.

Thomas Barta - Best Dish NZ

Thomas Barta – Best Dish NZ

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Elijah Holland – Best Dish International

Referred to as the Ōra’s, the awards recognise outstanding contributions from chefs working with Ōra King – New Zealand King Salmon’s premium foodservice brand. Ōra King is produced in Marlborough exclusively for fine dining restaurants in New Zealand and overseas.


The 2015 winners are:

  • Best Ōra King Ambassador International – Matt Lambert (The Musket Room, New York).
  • Best Ōra King Ambassador New Zealand – Nick Honeyman.
  • Best Ōra King Dish New Zealand – Thomas Barta (Harbourside Ocean Bar & Grill, Auckland) for his dish ‘Flavours of the Sea’.
  • Best Ōra King Dish International – Elijah Holland (The Powder Keg, Sydney) for his dish Rolled 42° Ōra King salmon belly, black eshallots, organic young potato confit, pickled seaweed, foraged flowers, smoked Ōra King consommé.

Worthy ambassadors

Ōra King spokesperson Jemma McCowan says Matt Lambert is a worthy ambassador who has collaborated with Ōra King on countless occasions throughout the past year.

“Matt is always keen to work with Ōra King and often approaches us to ask what we can do together. It is no secret he is proud of his Kiwi roots and loves nothing more than showcasing produce from his homeland. Matt is quick to promote Ōra King to his peers in both New Zealand and the United States; he truly is part of the Ōra King family.

“Naturally, Matt’s menu at The Musket Room consistently features Ōra King and he has a flair for including Ōra King in his many industry projects. He is just about to reinstate the restaurant’s celebrated Ōra King dish – Ōra salmon, satsuma, vanilla oil and sunflower seeds – recently mentioned in the Michelin Guide and a dish that appears frequently on both the tasting and a la carte menus.

“He is a true Ambassador and this is a thoroughly deserved three-peat win for him,” Ms McCowan says.

A long standing supporter of Ōra King, Nick Honeyman is always keen to collaborate and use Ōra King salmon in his many local and international adventures.

“From his appearance as a guest chef at our very first Ōra King event at Cloudy Bay Wines in Marlborough, Nick has accompanied us on the Ōra King journey. This year has been an exciting year of opportunity for Nick and he’s managed to incorporate Ōra King across a multitude of projects and countries.

“We’re delighted he chose Ōra King as one of his few select produce items from New Zealand for his French restaurant Le Petit Leon,” Ms McCowan says. The famous eatery – open only in the summer months – is in a small farming village called Saint Leon sur Vezere in the Dordogne region of south western France.

“We love the creativeness that resulted when we asked Nick to collaborate on a video encouraging entrants to the awards, all the way from France.”

Worthy chefs

Co-judge of the Best Ōra King Dish New Zealand for 2015 Lauraine Jacobs says it was extraordinarily difficult choosing a winner from a field of exceptional standard.

Lauraine Jacobs

Lauraine Jacobs

“But Thomas Barta’s dish was sensational. He really showed respect for our oceans by including a wide selection of delicious local seafoods and seaweeds, all napped by a perfectly executed bouillabaisse consommé.

Thomas Barta's Dish

Thomas Barta’s Dish

“Most important, the salmon was the hero of Thomas’ dish. Briefly poached, it had terrific texture and lovely flavour and shone like a beacon in the centre of the plate. We also liked the way he incorporated both salmon skin as crackling and salmon roe in the dish showing the diverse ways Ōra King salmon can be used,” Ms Jacobs says.

Sydney-based judge Lyndey Milan described Elijah Holland’s dish as having “great depth of flavour and complexity”, praising the chef for his “fantastic understanding of the different parts of the fish and the unique properties of the Ōra King salmon”.

Elijah Holland, The Powder Keg, Sydney

Elijah Holland’s Dish

About the chefs

Originally from Hungary, Thomas Barta is head chef at Harbourside Ocean Bar & Grill, Auckland. He has worked in Italy and the UK including two of UK’s most notable restaurants – Claridges and The Fat Duck. While working in Italy as a young chef Thomas dined at a Michelin star restaurant called Il Postale in Umbria where his passion for fine food began.

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Thomas Barta

Thomas and his wife arrived in New Zealand in 2011 where he has worked at the Roxy and Soul Bar, moving to Harbourside in 2013.

Elijah Holland is the Head Chef at The Powder Keg in Sydney and a self-proclaimed forager, evidenced in his dish by a vast array of locally foraged ingredients including wood sorrel, yarrow and native violets.

Elijah Holland

Elijah Holland

Born and raised in Auckland, Best International Ōra King Ambassador Matt Lambert worked alongside Michael Meredith at The Grove before relocating to the U.S. and opening The Musket Room in New York in May 2013.

Matt Lambert

Matt Lambert

The restaurant was awarded a Michelin star just four months after opening and retained the rating again in 2014 and 2015. Lambert has taken out the Ōra King International Ambassador Award for the three years the awards have been running.

South African-born Nick Honeyman is well known in the cosmopolitan Auckland dining scene and has recently finished a stint working and managing his restaurant Le Petit Leon in France having also worked in Australia and Japan.

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Nick Honeyman

Honeyman joined The French Café in Auckland in 2009 before moving on to several head chef roles in the city including The Commons and Sofitel. He was a finalist in the Ōra King Award for Best Ambassador NZ in 2014. Honeyman has a number of exciting projects in the pipeline with full details to be announced soon.

Awards luncheon

At today’s presentations, guests – including a host of New Zealand’s leading professional chefs – were treated to a delicious and innovative lunch prepared at Raetihi Lodge by an impressive line-up of Ōra King chefs.

IMG_3901They included Ben Batterbury from Queenstown restaurant True South Dining Room at The Rees Hotel (winner Best Ōra King Dish NZ 2014), Glen Taylor from Wellington Restaurant Zibibbo (winner Best Ōra King Ambassador NZ 2014) and Carla Jones from acclaimed Sydney restaurant 4Fourteen.

2015 Ōra King Awards

The third 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.

Issued for Ōra King by Pead PR

Contact: Jane Torrance, Pead PR, P: 09-918 5534, M: 021 393 157, E: