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EMBER: Hot New Menu — and More

“This is a very exciting time for Ember restaurant,” says new owner Mark Davis. “Not only do we have a renowned new chef but we are launching an enticing new menu — plus we’re now opening for breakfast as well as lunch.”

The launch date for the new-look Ember Eatery & Bar menus: September 4. You can look forward to a breakfast of Pumpkin Pain Perdue (glazed pear, pumpkin & rosemary feta, tonka spiced syrup); Mushrooms Myriad (wood mushrooms, poached egg, garlic croutes, truffle hollandaise); Ember ‘Bacon & Egg (crispy pig ears, fried egg, peanut chilli & lime salad); plus more, as well as all the usual favourites such as Eggs Benny, Honey Oat Granola and Eggs ‘n’ Toast. 

“For the first week, free coffees will be given away from 7am-9am and the following week, free coffee with each breakfast or lunch purchased,” says Mark. “With the revamped dinner menu we’re continuing with some of the old favourites such as Jerk Kid and Prawn Dogs with tangy McClure’s Pickles but we’re introducing new items showcasing local products such as Huffman’s Award-winning Sauces and cajeta.”

Tempting salads have been added including Grilled Watermelon with basil, mint, goat’s feta and compressed cucumber and Candied Beets with pecan, cajeta, sorrel, puffed quinoa and black garlic.

The team

Mark Davis is a late arrival to the hospitality industry but has previously managed several local businesses including his family transport company. He thoroughly enjoys a new challenge and the satisfaction of a job well done. “I had been looking for a new career move for a while and when the opportunity arose to purchase Ember it seemed a good fit.” Mark is relishing working with a great team, and of course, thoroughly enjoying the kitchen temptations.

Another Mark on the team, General Manager Mark Smithells, has helped nurture Ember since it was first opened by the Pumice Food Group — David Kerr and Ryan Ladbrook. Their ‘Pumice’ restaurant on the same site, burned down in 2013, but determination saw their stylish modern eatery Ember — with it’s iconic robata grill — rise from the ashes in September 2015.

Mark was enticed back to his hometown from Wellington’s Foxglove and Matterhorn restaurants. He has had 18 years experience in the ‘hospo’ industry and adds delightful character to Ember with his trademark cap and well-groomed moustache.

“I’m very happily settled back in Hamilton for the long haul, in my own home with my wife and two-year-old daughter,” he says. “I also find time to indulge my passion for creating artisan syrups and shrubs.”

New Executive Chef, Niels Naumman fell in love with food from an early age learning to cook at home to appease his ravenous appetite. As a New Zealand Restaurant Association modern apprentice he learnt his skills in a 50-seater bistro under the eye of top chef Stephen Thompson. “Three years in that small kitchen gave me a strong understanding of what it meant to be a chef and the delicate balance on which a restaurant is run.”

Niels then spent three years at the iconic Soul Bar & Bistro at Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour after which he followed his fiancée Hansa to Queensland’s Hamilton Island. “I enjoyed working at a south-east Asian restaurant after which I joined a seafood restaurant as sous chef. Together with executive chef Trent Dawson we raised the culinary standing of the popular Yacht Club. It was in the last couple of years on Hamilton Island that I really began honing my craft and started to fuse the cuisines I had enjoyed learning about over the years.

“My inspiration comes from everywhere,” says Niels.

Ember’s Assistant Manager and Niels’ partner Hansa Malhotra, was born in Delhi moving to Cambridge when she was 10-years-old for education at St Peters School. She started work at a local Italian eatery and then decided on a split front-of-house apprenticeship at Hamilton’s Sky City and Auckland’s award-winning French Café. “I subsequently joined the Depot team at the Sky City precinct but I wanted more of a challenge and moved to Hamilton Island.”

It was here that Hansa gained experience in all areas of hospitality — as a barista, bartender, supervisor and workplace trainer. The highlight was working the restaurant at the luxury resort Qualia. 

“Niels and I returned to New Zealand after four years mainly due to the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie,” she says.