Inspired by the luxury of the Lodge
James Stapley is the head chef at the exclusive Whare Kea Lodge, on the edge of Lake Wanaka. The Lodge, owned by Australia’s Myer family has a extraordinary facility which is being set on the edge of Lake Wanaka. It has six luxurious and elegant rooms.
Stapley has cooked at top restaurants, and has been the head chef at Pegasus Bay Winery and Saggio di Vino. Currently he is able to put into practice in an amazing kitchen, in an amazing environment with almost limitless freedom to create magnificent food. Very few of the Lodge’s guests are local.
They are likely to be people who have dined in some of the world’s finest restaurants, so the food James delivers has to measure up not just to a local standard, but to a global one.
There seems to have been a distinct shift away from rich, heavy butter- and cream-laden food toward that which is very fresh, with less red meat, with more fish and seafood. Beautiful looking food that tastes good, and makes the people feel good too.
The primary reason for the visit to Wanaka was to attend James’ lovely wife Belinda’s birthday party. the Stapleys is that they have started, pretty much from scratch, a small farm that now provides both the Lodge and some other local restaurants with ultra-fresh produce, a flock of 40-odd chickens, gardens producing heirloom tomatoes, herbs and greens.
Late last year the book Wanaka – Earth to Heaven at Whare Kea, featuring many of James’ recipes, was released and won “Best Wine And Food Matching Cookbook” at this year’s Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.