Head Chef Norka Mella Munoz.
With our Head Chef as ambassador for both Ora King Salmon New Zealand plus Beef & Lamb New Zealand, Kinloch Manor guests are assured of exceptional and adventurous dining. Using only the best from Taupo and surrounds, including farm and garden reared produce from Kinloch, plus the nearby owner’s private 2000 ha property that adheres to the ‘Estate to Plate’ dining philosophy – all of course matched with New Zealand and the world’s best wines.
Head Chef Norka Mella Munoz calls herself ‘Chiwi’ and her cooking reflects that, with a fusion of ‘kiwi’ local produce and her native Chilean flair. She grew up in Santiago with fond memories of her mum’s delicious cooking. They rarely dined out at restaurants as a family as her mum was such a fabulous cook always creating delicious fresh food for the family. When Norka enrolled in chef school, her parents, especially her dad, didn’t quite agree as it was such a male dominated industry. But INACAP is one of the best cooking schools in Latin America and she studied for three busy years, while also working at various catering jobs and events in Santiago.
Norka then undertook a six-month apprenticeship in a five-star hotel where she had the opportunity to work with several renowned chefs from France and Italy, followed by a move to Patagonia winning various gold culinary awards working for hotels such as the Intercontinental, Hotel Las Torres and the Explora Patagonia.
Enticed to move to New Zealand in 2003 with the intention of working here for only one year, Norka set off without being able to speak English but with the knowledge that food being a universal language would be enough to get herself a job.
From starting work with an Auckland catering company, she quickly became head chef of the company. She had realised that English was essential and decided to spend a year studying to learn the language. From tutoring new chefs at the Auckland Hotel and Chef Training School in Auckland she moved to the Hawkes Bay where delicious fresh produce was abundant. After spending family holidays there her family decided to make the move and live permanently in the Hawkes Bay where she continued working as a tutor and then moved to luxury Hawkes Bay lodge Mangapapa.
Norka says she has noticed a shift in feedback from guests wanting to try local produce, and to know exactly where their food has come from. This is where Kinloch Manors ‘Estate to Plate’ comes into play. Guests are encouraged to try Kinloch’s own garden produce, being able to respectfully pick what they wish to taste. Menus include naturally grown produce from Kinloch’s own garden and from the Treetops Estate, such as Manuka honey from lodge aviaries producing wild native comb honey of exceptional flavour, heritage varieties of indigenous and seasonal vegetables; native spinach (tetragonia), kumara, fresh turmeric, wasabi, native cress, plus sister estate or regionally sourced reared wild deer; red, fallow, sika, wapiti (elk), and water buffalo, beef, wild pig, lamb, rabbit, pheasant, partridge, geese, and duck. Guest’s own catch of Rainbow and Brown trout will always be prepared – and of cause Ora King Salmon is regularly on the menu.