Best Ōra King Dish Australia winner announced

17 October, 2018 by
Madeline Woolway

Ōra King has named Victoria’s Michael Demagistris, executive chef of Polperro Winery Restaurant in Red Hill, the winner of Best Ōra King Dish Australia 2018 at its sixth annual awards held on 16 October.

In line with this year’s theme ‘Inspired by Art’, Demagistris’ winning dish is an edible illustration of Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty featuring a cannelloni of Ōra King, New Zealand’s best-of-breed king salmon, with Red Hill truffle, finger lime, smoked caviar, bisque and burnt hay.

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“As I began to research Spiral Jetty, I was drawn to the pink colour of the Great Salt Lake and the shape of the artwork,” Demagistris says. “I have used elements in this dish to bring the saltiness forward including Himalayan pink salt, sea water and roasted nori enhanced using liquid nitrogen to deliver a fresh salty scent.”

The artwork’s distinctive spiral shape also inspired the plating of the winning dish, which Demagistris says is layered with multi-sensory flavours, textures and smells.

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The sixth annual awards were held in Ōra King’s heartland of Nelson, New Zealand at Suter Art Gallery over a formal dinner catered by last year’s winners Christopher Bonello (Australia), Marc Soper (New Zealand) and Mike Ellis (North America).

High-profile Sydney-based chef, restaurateur and Ōra King Best Dish Australia judge Justin North said Demagistris took the competition to the next level with the earth and land connection, which expresses the finalist’s own environment using indigenous herbs foraged in the Mornington Peninsula.

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“The dish is very clever and visually stunning,” says North. “The amount of work, thought, skill and love that went into it is simply outstanding and he deserves the recognition for creating such a wonderful, edible piece of art.”

Demagistris competed against 62 Australian chefs to take out the award including finalists Jesse McTavish (North Bondi Fish, Sydney) and 2017 awards winner Bonello (MPD Steak Kitchen, Melbourne). All top finalists are currently on a culinary and scenic journey of Nelson and Marlborough with visits to landmarks Te Waikoropupu Springs, Kahurangi Ranges and the Marlborough Sounds as well as New Zealand King Salmon’s facilities.

In June, Ōra King announced its annual callout for the best edible masterpiece. Ōra King received 185 entries worldwide, which were judged on dish composition, taste, execution, technique and x-factor.

The winners of the 2018 Ōra King Best Dish Awards are:

  • Best Ōra King Dish Australia, Michael Demagistris, Polperro Winery, Red Hill
  • Best Ōra King Dish New Zealand, Mark McAllister, Private Chef, Auckland
  • Best Ōra King Dish North America, Jonathan Granada, Otium LA
  • Best Ōra King Dish Japan, Naoki Nagai, RIHGA Royal Hotel Osaka