Ex-Biota chef-owner James Viles is swapping Bowral for the greater Blue Mountains precinct as he takes on a new role as executive chef of top-end resort Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley in New South Wales.
At Biota, Viles was known for working the on-site farm's produce into his modern Australian menu. His sustainable approach to food, he says, aligns with the luxury venue near Lithgow. The carbon-neutral resort occupies just one percent of the 7000-acre wildlife reserve and balances luxurious amenities with an environment-first ethos.
"The resort's passion for sustainability is something that I share, and I'm looking forward to working with some of Australia's best regional producers and artisans in and around the Blue Mountains," said Viles in a statement.
This isn't Viles's first stint in a hotel restaurant. He began his career at Aman Resorts and Orient Express Hotels before working throughout the Middle East, Europe and Hong Kong. He returned to Australia and opened Biota Dining in Bowral in 2011, cementing its reputation as a destination restaurant worthy of Southern Highlands road-trippers. Despite this, Biota went into liquidation earlier this year, with administrators saying the restaurant was likely trading as insolvent from 2017, and that its trading conditions were made more difficult after the bushfire season and the current health crisis.
In his new role at Wolgan Valley, Viles will be overseeing the kitchen, working with nearby growers and producers to showcase the produce of the local area, and foraging for ingredients. And, like at Biota, Viles will make the most of the resort's kitchen garden.