Set the scene
Joining James were his former head chef, Joel Bickford (now at The Gantry in Sydney); Jo Dodd, from Quarter Acre Farm; Russell McKean and wife Naomi, from The Good Garlic Guy; Cressida and Michael McNamara, from Pecora Dairy; and local beekeeper John Scott and wife Maria.
“We have a lot of ceramics, big natural vases and plates at home,” says James. “We have a big farmhouse table and everything just naturally works together. I love serving food on tactile dishes.”
“My mates come and we sit on the back deck and pile the table with food,” says James. “We love to be casual, but still use lots of seasonal produce.”
“I set the scene with tunes,” says James. “In the kitchen I’m used to Metallica and heavy metal. At home, I love Australian artists like Xavier Rudd – no-shoes hippie kind of music.”
“ I love a tinnie any time of day,” laughs James, “because they stay cold. Right now, it’s Mick Fanning’s Balter beers. I’m always getting in trouble for taking them home.”
Says Biota’s sommelier Ben Shephard: “We try not to choose wines that are too serious and instead go for lesser-known grapes and more fun-style wines. As Biota transitions into a more casual venue, we tend to source our wines by word of mouth, not necessarily local to the Highlands, but small producers. There’s one wine that I have, Trousseau (from Amato Vino) where they only produce 30 cases a year and I have six of them.”