For the second year in a row, Marc Soper has won the Best Ōra King Dish New Zealand at the annual Ōra King Awards.
Announced at the Ōra King Awards ceremony held in Tokyo yesterday, Marc Soper’s creation “Japanese inspired Ōra King Salmon, served with bone broth” was named the 2017 New Zealand winner.
Leading food industry experts Lauraine Jacobs and Geoff Scott judged the New Zealand category and both attended the prestigious event.
Geoff says, “Marc must have spent hour upon hour thinking about and perfecting every part of his creation. He showed us Ōra King salmon served to perfection, every ingredient there for a reason, the dish – delightful and clever, the taste – incredible!”
Lauraine raved about the dish saying, “Marc Soper’s Ōra King salmon was superb. He is a chef in a class of his own, as not only has he demonstrated absolute precision in his cooking, but he has also shown his shining talent two years running, embracing the nose to tail philosophy and ensuring that every single element on the plate is utterly delicious.”
The hero of Marc’s dish is a baked Ōra King salmon loin wrapped in nori. The salmon is topped with a sesame kelp seasoning and accompanied by wasabi peas, pickled rice, Ōra King caviar, soy ginger and tofu sponge. A smoked Ōra King salmon bone broth is served tableside in front of the guest.
Marc was inspired by the simplicity and full flavour of Japanese food, coupled with his fascination with the nose to tail philosophy. His dish incorporates the various parts of the Ōra King salmon including the belly, tail, skin and bones.
Marc took out the award after competing against 86 New Zealand chefs including finalists, Mark McAllister from Welcome Eatery, Himanshu (Shaun) Tyagi from Harbourside Bar and Grill, and Makoto Tokuyama from Cocoro. Makoto was also named the Best Ōra King Ambassador for New Zealand.
General Manager Marketing at New Zealand King Salmon, Jemma McCowan says, “The competition is getting more intense each year. It is impressive to see a wide range of Ōra King chefs from across New Zealand apply their creativity and culinary expertise to showcase Ōra King, as well as incorporating the Japanese twist. Chef Marc’s dish was applauded for its technical brilliance and flair by both our external judges. The award is very well deserved and I extend my congratulations to him.”
The awards have grown every year and to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the awards, the Awards ceremony and activities were held outside New Zealand, with the finalists and ambassadors for New Zealand, Australia and North America flown to Japan to join the Japanese finalists. This year, chefs from around the world were challenged to enter their Best Ōra King Dish with a Japanese twist.
The winners of the 2017 Ōra King Best Dish Awards are:
- Best Ōra King Dish New Zealand, Marc Soper, Wharekauhau Country Estate, Featherston
- Best Ōra King Dish Australia, Christopher Bonello, MPD Steak Kitchen, Melbourne
- Best Ōra King Dish North America, Travis Swikard, Boulud Sud, New York City
- Best Ōra King Dish Japan, Yosuke Kanai, Fleuve, Hotel Granvia Osaka
2017 Ōra King Awards
The fifth 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. Entries for the Best Dish Awards are submitted by chefs throughout the country and the final judging is handed over to industry experts.
Individual Ambassador awards are presented to an Ōra King chef in three regions. The recipients of these Ambassador awards are decided solely by the Ōra King team, representing the loyalty and dedication the chef has shown to Ōra King over the past year. They are:
- Best Ōra King Ambassador New Zealand, Makoto Tokuyama
- Best Ōra King Ambassador Australia, Jason Roberts
- Best Ōra King Ambassador North America, Mike Ellis.
Terms and conditions relating to the Ōra King Awards competition can be viewed on the Ōra King website.
About Marc Soper
Marc Soper is Executive Chef at Wharekauhau Country Estate in the Wairarapa region, where he has spent the past two and a half years. He 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, Soper has taken part in multiple competitions, receiving a silver medal at the Oceania Fest Open Team Challenge competition in Perth in October 2005; and then being part of the gold medal winning New Zealand Culinary Team which competed at the FHA Culinary challenge in Singapore in April 2006.
Marc has won and held many competition titles for his culinary skills throughout New Zealand, including: Wellington Chef of the Capital 2011, 2015, 2016; New Zealand Chef of the Nation winner 2005, 2016; New Zealand Beef and Lamb Ambassador 2015; Ōra King Best Dish New Zealand 2016.
Soper has cooked in some of Europe’s finest Michelin starred restaurants including Residents Heinz Winkler in Germany and Taggenberg restaurant in Switzerland. He has also gained experience working in the United States, Australia, Fiji, Tonga and Canada.
A self-confessed food forager, Soper loves hunting for the best and freshest produce and enjoys working closely with suppliers to share the passion from farm gate to dinner plate.