Join us at Biota in Bowral for a party cel­e­brat­ing lo­cal tal­ent.

delicious - - CONTENTS - WORDS PHOEBE WOOD PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BEN DEARNLEY STYLING MON­TANA VALICH

At his restau­rant Biota in the South­ern High­lands of NSW, chef James Viles is pas­sion­ate about cook­ing with what sur­rounds him. What bet­ter way to show­case the re­gion’s finest fare than a laid-back lunch with lo­cal pro­duc­ers?

CHEF JAMES VILES CALLS his guests to­day – a group of pas­sion­ate lo­cal South­ern High­lands pro­duc­ers – his bread and but­ter. “That’s how it’s hap­pened at Biota. The re­la­tion­ships we’ve formed over the last seven years have been nat­u­ral and lo­cal,” he ex­plains. There’s Jo Dodd, from Quar­ter Acre Farm, who grows James unique wild weeds like flick­weed and dan­de­lion, as well as ed­i­ble flow­ers – to­day she plucked a load of citrus from her trees and dropped them on the kitchen pass be­fore sit­ting down to lunch. Jo in­tro­duced James to John Scott, a bee­keeper, who keeps hives on the Biota prop­erty. From early days, cheeses from Pec­ora Dairy down the road have ap­peared on the restau­rant’s menu. Garlic grower Rus­sell McKean ar­rives at lunch bran­dish­ing a soil-laden bunch of fra­grant green garlic – it’ll ap­pear later tonight. What this means for Biota is a menu that changes not only sea­son­ally, but of­ten daily depend­ing on who drops by.

In­spired by New York State’s Blue Hills at Stone Barns, a big ex­pan­sion is in the works at Biota: lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion, a vertical gar­den, and a fruit or­chard out the back. Of his guests, James says: “I want these pro­duc­ers to con­nect. They are bloody good peo­ple and they sup­port us as much as we sup­port them.”

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