Meet the Chef: Leonardo Caceres, Ombra

Leonardo Caceres has worked across many restaurants since his cheffing career began in 2000. In his birthplace of Chile, he worked at top rated Santiago restaurants and for large companies like Sheraton hotels. He spent nine years at Enjoy Casino and Resort before moving to New Zealand.

In Aotearoa, Caceres started out at a Mexican restaurant before settling into Wellington’s Italian food scene. Beginning as Chef de Partie, then Sub Chef, Caceres is now Head Chef at Venetian-inspired bacaro Ombra, serving traditional and modern Italian sharing plates.

The menu, though at first appearing a little tricky to read, features a glossary of its Italian terms and an array of pasta, meatballs, pizza, fish and salad dishes perfect for sharing. Offering Spritz to start and Italian sour cherry wine to finish, the drinks menu also invites guests to explore Italy by way of Cuba Street.

Caceres’ food style is classic, Italian and innovative. He tries to use ingredients that fit the season and finds a lot of inspiration in his learnings from more than 20 years working as a chef. 

As a busy restaurant, the role of Head Chef at Ombra is a challenging one. The eatery is well known and has a high standard for its food. Caceres enjoys keeping the kitchen organised, and having control over the creation of Ombra’s dishes.

“For me the thing it takes to be a good chef is always be humble, passionate, motivated to work and create a good team that you can rely on. If you follow this simple step, trust me you’ll be a great chef.”

His main goal is to grow Ombra’s success in all aspects, by giving his all to maintain and further the restaurant's current high standard.

For this year's Wellington On A Plate (WOAP - August 1-31), using pasta from Miramar’s Bongusto, Caceres has created a spaghetti grilla with Woody’s free range pancetta, sauteed onions and pecorino cheese. His WOAP burger of 2022 is a tahr meat mixed with pork mince, black pickled radish, cranberry relish, steamed potatoes, Zany Zeus mascarpone cream, nasturtium aioli and Zaida’s bakery buns. 

For the food festival, Ombra will host a special event August 7 and 8, making food from the HBO series The Sopranos - A Meal with Tony: Take Your Hat Off. Chicken soup for the soul, followed by dishes such as gabagool, ziti, involtini, cannoli, and ricotta and pineapple pie and to finish - as the show did - onion rings.

Ombra is located at 199 Cuba Street, Wellington. Visit for more