Norka Mella Munoz grew up in Santiago, Chile, where she has fond memories of her mum’s delicious cooking. Rarely dining out at restaurants, they instead spent evenings cooking together as a family.
Before moving to New Zealand, Norka worked at restaurants all over the world, starting with six years of work for five-star hotels in Chile where she won various gold culinary awards working for hotels such as the Intercontinental, the fabulous Explora Las Torres, and the Explora Patagonia.
Fulfilling her dreams, she arrived in New Zealand and continued working for hotels but her main passion was her work as a tutor in Auckland sharing her knowledge with new talented chefs. Then came a move to Hawke’s Bay, where Chef Norka again was tutoring new chefs until she came across a role at Mangapapa that was perfect for her. Norka Mella Munoz started a fantastic revolution with the Mangapapa Restaurant, becoming the first female Head Chef in Mangapapa history.
Chef Norka calls herself ‘Chiwi’ and her cuisine reflects that, with a fusion of ‘Kiwi’ local produce and her Chilean flair on the new restaurant menus. She brings the female touch to the Mangapapa food with extreme care and attention to the detail of each plate. In 2020, Norka was named as a Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chef and in 2021 was the first female chef in New Zealand to become an Ōra King Ambassador.
Departing as Head Chef at Kinloch Manor and Village in Taupo, Norka is now looking forward to her new role as Executive Chef at Wharekauhau Country Estate.
“Food is my greatest passion, I come from a country where family, food and celebration are one and the same.”