Ōra King Next Generation is an exciting opportunity for up and coming chefs throughout New Zealand and Australia to develop the essential skills needed to progress in the fast-paced food service industry.

The NextGen programme is open to all chefs who have a passion to learn and develop. Ideally, applicants will have a couple of years commercial kitchen experience and are currently either Commis or Chef de Partie level.

However, we will consider all applications on a case by case basis. So if there is a budding ‘Masterchef’ out there desperate for a career change we would consider their application.

The programme is made up of two stages.

Stage 1 – Application process and 1 Week Stage

Applications can be made via the online submission form on the Ōra King website. Applications will be open for 4 weeks from Monday 13th Feb until Sunday 12th March 2017.

Each of our Chef Mentors will host a successful NextGen applicant for up to 1 week in their professional kitchen. This work experience will be classed as an ‘unpaid stage’ and the applicant will have to seek permission from their Head Chef to take part in the programme.

The stage must be taken within the 5 week time period of 9th April – 14th May 2017.

Stage 2: Exclusive Industry Event

NextGen chefs, along with support from their mentors, will work together to create and deliver a fabulous celebratory menu for their peers. Showcasing the skills they have learned throughout the programme at an exclusive, invite-only event.

The 2016 Regional Mentors & their Next Gen Chef

Andrew Brown, The Dragon’s Den, Christchurch

Andrew is owner/operator of Burgers & Beers Inc and the Dragon’s Den Social Lounge. With more than 20 years in the industry Andrew has forged his career through many elements of hospitality. For many years he held executive chef roles in formal dining restaurants, banquet catering and cafés and five star hotels, including the acclaimed Pescatore Restaurant at The George Luxury Hotel in Christchurch. Andrew and has a wide range of cuisines in his repertoire has a true passion for food and is dedicated to passing on his knowledge to the next generation which has delivered results in his training of two NZ Apprentices of the Year.

Clement Mathon, True South Dining at The Rees Luxury Apartments, Queenstown

French-born Clement Mathon (30) is a pastry chef at The Rees Hotel and Luxury Apartments in Queenstown. Clement attended catering school in France from 2003 to 2007 also spending training time in various restaurant kitchens including at the 1 Michelin Star ‘Le Neuvieme Art.  For four years from September 2007 he worked at Novotel Grenoble as chef de rang. He came to New Zealand in 2011 to experience a different culture and improve his English skills becoming concierge at Novotel Queenstown Lakeside before taking up his current role at The Rees in December 2013.

Chetan Pangam, one80° Restaurant, Copthorne Hotel, Wellington

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.

Daryl Remaneses, Baretta, Christchurch

Daryl Remaneses (20) has a Certificate in Cookery and Hospitality from Christchurch Polytechnic Institute and is currently studying for his Diploma in Professional Cookery (Level 5). He also works full time at Baretta Bar & Restaurant as a junior chef de partie. Among other responsibilities he has a supervisory role in the absence of senior staff, manages the larder and various health and safety procedures and is involved in cooking and plating. Prior to his current role Daryl worked at Anytime Foods as a supervisor for three years to October 2014 later gaining 12 months’ work experience at The George Hotel while studying.

Darren Johnson, MASU by Nic Watt, Auckland

Australian born, Kiwi bred, Darren Johnson returned to New Zealand in 2013 after 17 years cooking in international cuisine hotspots such as Melbourne and London coming back as right handman and head chef at acclaimed Auckland restaurant MASU by Nic Watt. Now executive chef at MASU and Watt’s Adelaide restaurant Madame Hanoi, Darren is fast making a name for himself on the Auckland dining scene delivering exceptional award-winning contemporary Japanese and Vietnamese cuisine.

Maxime Gnojczak, One80 Restaurant, Copthorne Hotel, Wellington

A junior sous chef in Restaurant One80 at four star Copthorne Hotel in Wellington, Maxime Gnojcza (27), was born and educated in France.  In his role he delivers a large range of catering from a la carte through set menu, degustation dinners to offsite catering for groups. Maxime is experienced in creating new menus, special menu requests and apprentice training and runs either the larder or the mains or the dessert section. He has competed as both an individual and for the hotel in the Wellington Food Show gaining a second and a first in the Yellow Brick Road seafood open class in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Maxime has qualified in France with a foundation degree in catering school and a degree in catering management. His previous role was as assistant chef manager at Chartwell Rugby School for Compass Group.

Kevin Hopgood, Hopgood’s, Nelson

Originally hailing from London, chef Kevin Hopgood spent more than 20 years working in some of the city’s most demanding kitchens including the legendary Le Gavroche with the Roux brothers. Hopgood’s Restaurant, located in the heart of Nelson, was opened in 2005 by Kevin and Jane Hopgood with the aim of presenting modern, seasonally-based bistro-style dishes in a casual and relaxing environment.

Joelle Snook, Fusion Restaurant, Timaru

Joelle (19) is commis chef at Fusion Restaurant & Café in Timaru. She has been involved in the hospitality industry since she was 15 beginning as a waitress at a local reception centre. Joelle graduated from Aoraki Polytechnic with certificates in both level 4 cookery (2015) and level 2 bakery (2014) where she gained the award for Best Industry Potential. She has worked as a kitchen hand for work experience and a café assistant and barista. During 2015 Joelle entered and won a number of industry awards including NZ Chefs National Salon Commis Chef of the Year, gold medals in Live Dessert at the National Salon and for HPC Main and Desert at the Southern Lights competition. Joelle is a member of the NZ Chefs Association.

Simon Green, Halo at Trinity Wharf, Tauranga

Simon originates from England and spent most of his professional life in renowned 4 & 5 star hotels in and around London. He was appointed executive chef for Trinity Wharf Hotel in September 2010. He has built on the reputation of the restaurant by incorporating his individual flair for cooking based on his extensive expertise and deep experience. An avid culinary competitor, Simon has won multiple awards for both himself and the restaurant.

Harrison McIntrye, SKYCITY, Auckland

Since January 2014, Harrison McIntyre (21) has been employed as an apprentice chef at Auckland’s SKYCITY Entertainment Group where he is expected to undergo five, 10-week rotations every year with three-to-four month rotations in year three. He has completed most of his training in SKYCITY’s conventions and main production kitchen working in pastry, larder and hot production. Harrison also often works overtime in other of the business’ kitchens and has also worked with the executive sous chef and the sour chef of SKYCITY’s main kitchen assisting with menu development and special events. Prior to SKYCITY Harrison worked part time at Auckland Seafood School in the role of assistant chef.


Ōra King Mentors – New Zealand


Darren Wright, Chillingworth Road, Christchurch

Growing up in Akaroa with a commercial fisherman father, Darren Wright made the controversial decision to embark on a career in the kitchen. Darren’s first role was a kitchen hand in a local restaurant, from there he quickly progressed to the role of junior chef before moving to Christchurch to attend Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, now ARA.

After 2 ½ years working at the Crowne Plaza (formerly the Park Royal), Darren won the 1999 SPHC Junior Chef of the Nation. This win resulted in a 6 week cooking experience in Penang, Malaysia, which served as a fabulous and insightful cooking experience. Over the course of his career, Darren has won many prestigious accolades including Platinum Ambassador status for Beef & Lamb NZ. Darren was the 2016 Vice Captain of the NZ Culinary Olympic Team and has represented New Zealand at numerous global competitions.

In 2012, Darren along with his wife Leanne opened Chillingworth Road on Cranford Street in Christchurch. The restaurant is separated into three areas; a relaxed bar/bistro for pre and post dinner drinks, an intimate, hidden dining room and a private dining room named “The Mumm Room” (after the champagne!).

When it comes to produce, Darren sources as much locally as possible, he firmly believes it is very important to use NZ products as they are “among the best in the world”.

Marc Soper, Wharekauhau Country Estate, Featherston

Chef Marc Soper is currently employed as Executive Chef at Wharekauhau Country Estate in the Wairarapa region, where he has spent the past 2 ½ years. Marc is the New Zealand Conseiller Culinaire for La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and is responsible for organising the national Jeunes chefs Rotisseurs competition.

Born and bred in Marlborough, Marc has spent a substantial amount of his career taking part in various competitions, including being part of the gold medal winning New Zealand Culinary Team who competed at the FHA Culinary challenge in Singapore in April 2006 after receiving a silver medal at the Oceania Fest Open Team Challenge competition in Perth in October 2005.

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
  • Ōra King Best Dish New Zealand 2016

Marc has cooked in some of Europe’s finest Michelin starred restaurants including Residents Heinz Winkler in Germany and Taggenberg restaurant in Switzerland. In addition to time spent in two of California’s top-ranked restaurants – Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco and the acclaimed French Laundry restaurant owned by Chef Thomas Keller in Napa Valley. He has also gained experience working in Australia, Fiji, Tonga, and Canada.

Marc is a self-confessed food-forager; he loves hunting for the best and freshest produce grown around the Estate and enjoys working closely with his suppliers to share the passion from farm gate to dinner plate. If you cannot find him in the kitchen, you will likely find him knee-deep in the local streams collecting watercress, or atop a ladder picking crab apples.

Chef Marc describes his style as a unique presentation of modern European food with a kiwi twist, using the freshest of New Zealand bounty and sourcing as much local produce as he can.

Michael Meredith, Merediths, Auckland

Michael Meredith is one of NZ most creative chefs and owner of elite-degustation restaurant Merediths.

Samoan-born Michael, has earned his stellar reputation following the award of a scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America, after which he spent time working in New York, Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland’s best establishments before ultimately opening his own restaurant Merediths in 2007.

A slew of awards for the sophisticated and intimate Mt Eden restaurant followed including the 2008 Metro Best New Restaurant Award, 2009 Metro Audi Restaurant ‘Supreme Winner’ Award, 2011 Cuisine NZ Restaurant of the Year Award and Outstanding Chef of the Year.

Chef Meredith has a unique style and a reputation as a conjurer of flavour and texture. He believes in innovation through simplicity – the innovation is to transform a seasonal ingredient creating a cuisine that is both simple and pure.

Featured in numerous magazines articles and food blogs, the humble Meredith has earned his reputation throughout the Pacific as an exceptional talent and continues to rise as an important contributor to global cuisine.

Meredith is also involved the Social Enterprise Eat My Lunch, this online business has a ‘buy one give one’ model that can bring social change by simply eating your lunch. This has resulted in more accolades for Michael; recognition from the Restaurant Association Good Neighbour Award 2015 and the New Zealander of the Year Awards 2015. Most recently, Michael has joined Air New Zealand as a chef consultant for business class meals alongside Peter Gordon.

Applications have now closed.

Ōra King Mentors – Australia


Ben O’Donoghue – Billykart Kitchen, Brisbane

Ben O’Donoghue is one of Australia’s original and most loved Celebrity Chefs. Having worked in kitchens and the media all around the world Ben’s highlight of his career so far was catering the 2015 G20 summit, serving the leaders from around the world and having Barak Obama coming back for more!

Ben started his career in Australia in the 90’s, then headed to London where he worked in kitchens like the famous River Café, Monte’s Clun, Atlantic Bar and Grill alongside names such as Jamie Oliver and Oliver Peyton. Quickly he became a well-known personality there and fronted BBC2 series ‘The Best’ with Paul Merrett and Sylvana Franco.

When he returned to Australia he went straight into filming ‘Surfing the Menu’ with Curtis Stone, which lasted for 4 very successful seasons. Further TV shows that Ben fronted include ‘The best in Australia’ Lifestyle channel, ‘Drive thru Australia’, ‘Tom & Ben’s Singapore’ and ‘Aussie BBQ Hero’s’ Channel 7.

Ben has released four cookbooks with Hardie Grant Books, Outdoor: Grill Your Way Round the WorldBen’s BarbequeAt Home With Ben – a snapshot of his stellar cooking career and Ben’s Barbecue Bible – a culmination of all things barbequing.  Ben 4th book, Ben’s Meat Bible, was released in 2015.  He has also has been a regular contributor to major food magazines including writing for Delicious for 10 years.

Owner of 3 successful and award winning Brisbane restaurant and retail fronts – Billykart Kitchen, Billykart West End and Billykart Provisions, these venues encapsulate his signature laid back style, cooking with fresh local produce and distinctive flavours.

He is the quintessential, modern, boisterous Aussie Dad. The combination of his larrikin sense of humour with his high-end culinary expertise and a passion for sharing what he knows about food, cooking and having a great time, has ensured he continues to be one of Australia’s most loved chefs.

Chef Alejandro Saravia – PastusoMelbourne

Chef Alejandro Saravia is widely credited with introducing Peruvian cuisine to Australia’s food culture. In addition to running his own critically acclaimed restaurant, Pastuso, Peruvian-born Alejandro is a consultant chef, sought-after media spokesperson, and all-round advocate for Latin American cuisine and culture.

Alejandro brings his South American heritage to all aspects of his cooking. Having grown up with the strong flavours and variety of Peruvian cuisine, Alejandro finds inspiration in the fond memories of his grandmother’s cooking to convey the essence of Peru through food.

This passion for authentic food made with love, is combined with Alejandro’s wealth of experience gained through cooking in world-class kitchens across continents. From culinary school in Peru at the age of 16 followed by a traineeship in New York to stints in Barcelona, Paris, London and Sydney – including at the esteemed Sails on Lavender Bay – the coveted chef has worked with some of the best, including under Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck in London.

After moving to Sydney, Alejandro founded A Taste of Peru in 2007. The enterprise educated foodies in the ingredients, flavours and cooking methods of Peru and Latin America through degustations, cooking classes and gourmet tours to his home country.

Then in 2011 Alejandro opened his first restaurant, Morena, in Surry Hills. The restaurant paved the way for South American cuisine in Australia, becoming the first Peruvian restaurant to be featured in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.

In 2014, Alejandro moved to Melbourne and opened his second restaurant, the popular Pastuso, a cevicheria, pisco bar and Peruvian grill nestled in the heart of the CBD. Pastuso immerses its guests in Peruvian food and culture from the moment they walk through the doors, importing traditional Peruvian products for use throughout Pastuso’s creative menu that celebrates the diversity of this fresh and vibrant cuisine.

Alejandro has an evident passion for and expertise in Peruvian flavours, ingredients and cooking techniques, and he is enthusiastic to continue sharing this passion with others through his restaurants, master classes, consulting and more.

Jason Roberts, Manly Pavilion/Poku, Sydney

A New Zealand native who splits his time between Sydney and New York City, Jason Roberts is an internationally known chef, author, television personality, brand ambassador, fitness enthusiast, and gluten-free lifestyle advocate.

Having grown up in a family of culinary professionals, Jason discovered his passion for food at a young age. Turning it into a career, he spent seven years as an Executive Chef at Bistro Moncur in Sydney, Australia, where he was immersed in the traditions and techniques of French cuisine by his mentor, Damien Pignolet. His accolades caught the attention of Australia’s Channel 9, where he became the host of Fresh, a cooking program that aired five days a week in Australia and New Zealand.

In January 2003, Jason was introduced to the United States on ABC’s Good Morning America and a couple of years later Jason hosted the award-winning food talk show Jason Roberts’ Taste which earned him two American Accolade Awards for “Best Host” and “Best Health & Lifestyle Program.”

Believing that meal time fosters deeper connections between family and friends, Jason’s motto is: “A family that cooks together, stays together.” As a long-time supporter of OPAL, an initiative founded in Australia that teaches families in under-served areas how to cook healthy meals, Jason’s advocacy for healthy living continues to make a difference. He is a dedicated partner of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, where he serves as a spokesman and advocate to help end childhood hunger in America.

Jason’s passion for fitness and desire to help those in need pushed him to launch Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry in 2014. An annual event in association with Share Our Strength. Chefs Cycle is a peer-to-peer fundraising endurance event featuring award-winning chefs fighting hunger outside the kitchen.

Jason regularly travels the world as a guest speaker at top food shows and culinary events. He is the co-founder of rocket+rabbit – an artisanal brand featuring healthy snacks that are hand-crafted from pure wholefoods to fuel and heal –and he is Executive Chef at The Bistro at Manly Pavilion.

Applications have now closed.