One award winner to another

Changing seasons means new flavours. Ambria has this month welcomed a new Head Chef, Munish Raja.

We say an emotional farewell to outgoing head chef, Vernon Jensen who with his wife, Shelle, have purchased their own business and are off in a new direction, for which we wish them every success. Vernon had been Ambria’s head chef for four years. In that time he had received accolades such as, Beef and Lamb Excellence: 2015, 2016 & 2017, Bronze medal, NZ culinary fare: 2013 & 2014, and became a part of the Katikati fabric.

But it’s a brand new season in the Ambria kitchen. Munish comes to us from Basalt restaurant, Auckland, and before that from Peppers Carington Resort, Northland. He comes with a list of accolades of his own (see right), and is excited to work “ in a restaurant that is well known and already works with food I like to prepare.” Munish says he is “ looking forward to adding some fresh ideas along side the current favourites”

So who is Munish?

Where are you from?
I was born in Fiji but have spent most my life in NZ, I grew up in Auckland.

What made you become a chef?
My father was a chef and had his own restaurant. I started off helping out in his restaurant and seeing all the cool different foods inspired me.

Have you always loved food then?
Absolutely, I love food, it’s a passion that runs in my veins like blood!

What’s your favourite thing to cook and why?
I love to cook the cheap cuts of meat, and make them in to a beautiful, flavorsome dish, an ingredient that other chefs don’t use much these days. It makes it challenging for me, a chance to showcase my skills.

Tell me something about your family?
I have the best parents in the world! I have a lovely and caring wife and two handsome boys. Both my parents, my wife and I are very hospitality orientated. We all spent time working in hospitality.

Do you cook at home?
Only on special occasions. My wife cooks different things than I do at work, like amazing curries, and it’s nice to go home and have something different from what I cook.

Next time you are at Ambria make sure you say hi to Munish, and try out his new flavours as he puts his mark to the Ambria style.

You can book online here, or call Andrew on 07 5492272

PS shameless plug: If you need lawn care or garden maintenance contact Vernon and Shelle at 021 818 454 or email



  • NZ Chefs Association Compétitions Judge.
  • BEEF &  LAMB AWARD – Achieved for highest standard Beef & Lamb Dishes for 2015.
  • Overall Winner for “Mystery Box Seafood” 2013, Northland Culinary Fair.
  • Recognition of being “One of the Top Six Chef’s of Northland” 2012, Northland Chefs Association.
  • Won Bronze Medal for Mystery Box Competition 2012, New Zealand Culinary Fair
  • Won Bronze Medal for Fish & Seafood. 2012, New Zealand Culinary Fair Competition.
  • Won Bronze Medal for Live Desserts. 2012, New Zealand Culinary Fair