Chef's Philosophy - Mangapapa Hotel - Luxury Boutique Accommodation - Havelock North

Chef’s Philosophy


Learn more about our passion for fresh, seasonal produce and the inspiration behind how we create our wonderful dishes.

Our Head Chef, Norka Mella Munoz has started a fantastic revolution with the Mangapapa Restaurant. The first female Head Chef in Mangapapa history. Chef Norka is Chilean, and has been living in New Zealand for fourteen years.  She has worked 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. Following her arrival in New Zealand, Chef Norka 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. She has always believed within the hospitality industry, we should encourage learning and passion for cuisine.

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. “Food for me is a celebration and always has a connection to family, sharing and partying. So I create menus with those things in mind. Food creates special connections to moments in your life and eating that particular food again will remind you of that moment. For example my grandma’s chocolate layer cake, it is a special family recipe for me and I shared it recently on our High Tea menu so our guests could share the same joy I get from the recipe” Chef Norka.

The Mangapapa Kitchen is a place of creativity using fresh produce grown in our kitchen garden and our acres of orchards. Every day the talented Chefs, work to create unique dinner menus tailored to the guests’ preference and new flavours for our delicate sweet treats adorning our high tea. Our Mangapapa Kitchen maintains a ‘paddock to plate’ philosophy in all their cuisine, straight from the great outdoors to the kitchen preparation hub. The team are inspired by seasonal local produce and the quality of those ingredients, producing exceptional menus with flair and creativity.

All hotels guests are invited to tour the expansive grounds, looking in at the Mangapapa sheep in the paddock and the hotel’s chickens in their little house. We also have a beautiful kitchen garden that we encourage guests to visit, full of flavoursome aromas and bright colours. Our gardeners are on hand to answer any questions and point out the variety that is available to the kitchen.