Executive Chef, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley
James Viles is the Executive Chef at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, the ultra-luxury, conservation-based resort set in a stunning 7,000-acre wilderness reserve in the Greater Blue Mountains. One of Australia’s most acclaimed regional restaurateurs, James is best known for his imaginative, authentically Australian cuisine and his passion for sustainability. He leads the resort’s talented team of chefs, creating exciting menus showcasing the region’s finest produce, sourced sustainably from the ‘food bowl’ that surrounds the resort.
James began his career as a young chef working overseas for Aman Resorts and Orient Express Hotels before returning to the Southern Highlands, the area south of Sydney where he grew up, to work at The Schoolhouse. Aged just 23, James was awarded a Good Food Guide ‘chef’s hat’, the Australian equivalent of a Michelin star. He spent the rest of his twenties working at acclaimed restaurants throughout the Middle East and Europe, honing his technique alongside Michelin-starred chefs including Hans Haas of Tantris in Munich and Alain Ducasse at Spoon in Hong Kong. Back in Australia, James had a vision to create a dining destination in regional New South Wales that supported local farmers and growers, and in 2011, he opened Biota Dining in Bowral. The restaurant was named Regional Restaurant of the Year in the Good Food Guide in 2014 and 2015 and held its two chef hat status for eight years.
James’ connection to the land is fundamental to his cooking and his philosophy. He grew up in rural New South Wales and some of his earliest memories are of watering and planting in the garden with his mother, who was a horticulturalist. Upon his arrival at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, James designed the menus from the ground up, using seasonal ingredients sourced from the resort’s gardens and local producers.
“I’m overjoyed to be doing what I love, which is creating beautiful, authentic food and exciting dining experiences for guests in one of the most beautiful places on earth. My team and I have a deep connection to the land; foraging, gathering and developing relationships with the farmers, vintners and growers of this diverse Greater Blue Mountains region,” said James Viles. “Our dishes are crafted with honesty, purity and reflect the seasons of this beautiful valley. As chefs, it is our responsibility to respect both the plant and animal life and the land itself, and to tread lightly on its surface, as we strive to create everlasting culinary memories for our guests.”
James is responsible for the culinary concept and operations at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, from the elegant but informal cuisine of ‘Wolgan Dining Room by James Viles’, through to the more casual lunches at Country Kitchen and the resort’s exceptional in-villa dining, gourmet picnics and barbecues. James also hosts culinary adventures in and around the valley, from foraging expeditions gathering edible shrubs, flowers and berries, to tours of local artisan providores and winemakers.
Created exclusively for the ultra-luxury market, One&Only is conceived as a hallmark of excellence. Set in some of the most beautiful locales in the world, each award-winning resort offers guests a distinctive style and personality borne of its local culture, a genuine hospitality and a lively energy that is unrivalled. The exclusive collection includes One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives; One&Only Le Saint Géran in Mauritius; One&Only Royal Mirage and One&Only The Palm in Dubai; One&Only Palmilla in Los Cabos, Mexico; One&Only Cape Town in South Africa; Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley in The Blue Mountains in Australia; One&Only Desaru Coast in Malaysia; and One&Only Nyungwe House and One&Only Gorilla’s Nest in Rwanda. As part of the new portfolio, One&Only will be opening One&Only Mandarina in Riviera Nayarit in Mexico in 2020. Additional resorts in development include One&Only Portonovi in Montenegro, One&Only Kéa Island in Greece, One&Only One Za’abeel in Dubai as well as communities of One&Only Private Homes around the world. More information on One&Only is available at oneandonlyresorts.com