Chef’s bid to stay king of salmon stars

Wairarapa News - - FRONT PAGE - PIERS FULLER

‘‘My goal now is to put that pride and pas­sion on the plate and come away with the win’’

Marc Soper has fed roy­alty, movie stars and pres­i­dents, so the pres­sure cooker en­vi­ron­ment of pre­par­ing a dish for an in­ter­na­tional judg­ing panel doesn’t es­pe­cially faze him.

The ex­ec­u­tive chef at Wharekauhau Coun­try Lodge on Wairarapa’s south­ern coast has notched up a string of awards in re­cent years and is now hop­ing to hold on to his Best Ora King Dish crown, which he won last year.

As one of a crop of in­ter­na­tional chefs wing­ing their way to Ja­pan for the fi­nals, Soper is the only non-Auck­lan­der among the four Ki­wis.

The win­ning chefs from New Zealand, Aus­tralia, North Amer­ica and Ja­pan are go­ing to be an­nounced in Ja­pan later in the month.

Soper has de­vel­oped an ex­tra­or­di­nary record of awards in re­cent years; Welling­ton’s Chef of the Cap­i­tal 2015 and 2016, New Zealand Chef of the Na­tion 2005 and 2016, and Best Ora King Dish last year.

He has also made it into the New Zealand team which has set its sights on the Culi­nary Olympics in Stuttgart in 2020.

The Ora King fi­nal­ists have been asked to cre­ate a salmon dish with a Ja­panese twist, which is down to the chef’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion ex­pressed through in­gre­di­ents, tech­niques, pre­sen­ta­tion or sim­ply in­spi­ra­tion.

Soper’s dish was ex­tremely com­pli­cated and utilised every part of the fish. It took three days to put to­gether and the smoked bone broth alone has 18 dif­fer­ent in­gre­di­ents.

‘‘I had to get my bum off my seat and put a suc­cess­ful dish to­gether to be in the run­ning and I’m pretty hum­bled that I’ve been se­lected as a fi­nal­ist and get to go to Ja­pan. My goal now is to put that pride and pas­sion on the plate and come away with the win, hope­fully,’’ he said.

His ethos at Wharekauhau is to use as much lo­cal pro­duce as pos­si­ble and for the salmon dish he has even gone to the lengths of comb­ing the rocky shore­line next to the es­tate to col­lected bull kelp - a tra­di­tional in­gre­di­ent in Ja­panese cook­ing.

‘‘There are a lot of peo­ple in the com­mu­nity who are reach­ing out to of­fer their as­sis­tance with dif­fer­ent prod­ucts. Why pur­chase things a mil­lion miles up the other end of the coun­try.’’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.