James Stapley cooks dinner at Tower Estate

The New Zealand Relais & Chateaux chef James Stapley will be cooking his unique cuisine in the Hunter Valley at Tower Estate’s exclusive “Grand Chef Series” dinner on July 14.

Similar to the Tower Estate’s Jacques Reymond, Tony Bilson and Jacques Marcon weekends, you will have the exclusive privilege to dine with James on the Friday night with only 22 other guests at Tower Lodge for a four-course dinner prepared by Tower executive chef George Francisco. On the Saturday evening, James will be cooking at nearby Roberts restaurant which includes a seven-course degustation menu and paired wines.

James Stapley at Whare Kea in Wanaka, New Zealand ©Taste for Travel

I’ve eaten James’s food before at Whare Kea, the luxury lodge on the shores of Lake Wanaka in southern New Zealand. Our menu included haloumi-stuffed pumpkin blossoms and harissa, steamed West Coast crayfish salad, celeriac puree and wild mushroom tortellini, wild Fiordland venison, and rose jelly with raspberries.

James isn’t one of these temperamental chefs banning guests from his domain. Maybe it’s a typically relaxed Kiwi thing. Scuffing in slippers into his kitchen to ask for a cup of tea is not a drama.


  • Tower Lodge, on the Tower Estate winery, is about two and a half hours drive from Sydney or 35 minutes by chopper. If you are driving there from Sydney, leave by early afternoon because after 2.30pm the traffic on the Pacific Highway is HELL.
  • Room rates range from $A710 to $A810 per night and include accommodation for two, full buffet and a la carte cooked breakfast, complimentary afternoon tea, pre-dinner drinks and an evening turn down service.
  • High tea on weekends is $A42 pp or $A56 pp with champagne. Reservations essential. More info about the dinner weekend  www.towerestate.com or call Roberts for bookings on 02 4998 7022. Strictly limited numbers.
  • For transport by helicopter go to www.helicharter.com.au

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