Executive chef James Stapley unveils a new seasonal menu featuring the light, elegant flavours of the freshest organic produce along with inspiring cooking classes, adding to the appeal of an escape at this luxury lodge on the shores of Lake Wanaka.
Stapley makes the most of the region’s wealth of top-quality artisanal produce, from saffron and olive oil to lamb and venison. As well, Stapley draws on beautiful produce from his own organic gardens at his home in Wanaka to bring the freshest ingredients to his dishes at Whare Kea.
Far from being tucked away, the kitchen is at the heart of the minimally elegant lodge with vistas of the lake and Southern Alps beyond, once more reflecting Myer’s passion for food and cooking.
“Guests often pop in and enjoy a glass of the region’s amazing pinot noir while I’m preparing the evening menu,” says Stapley. “Where else in the world has a kitchen with a view like this?”
A highlight of a stay at Whare Kea is the five-course dégustation he prepares every evening, complemented by the finest wines from Central Otago. Some of the dishes on this light, vibrant and ever-changing menu from September include koura (freshwater crayfish) tacos filled with avocado, chilli, lime and coriander flowers; home-grown asparagus and broad bean salad topped with crisp quail eggs and hazelnut vinaigrette; West Coast whitebait with fennel and apple rémoulade, black quinoa and home-grown baby radishes; Cardrona spring lamb with home-grown heirloom carrots; new Jersey Benne potato gnocchi, kale crisps and pan jus; and for dessert, fresh raspberry soufflé with mint ice-cream, crushed raspberries and rasperry-ade.
“Spring is an especially exciting time of year for me and my wife, Belinda, who tends our organic gardens at home. It is always exciting to see new growth in the garden and the opportunities for new planting that the warmer weather brings,” says Stapley. “After a Central Otago winter with limited fresh local produce available, to be able to pick fresh asparagus, broad beans, Jersey Benne potatoes, radishes and the first salad leaves of the season is a real joy.”
You can also choose to participate in a new series of cooking classes from 1 September 2012. Hour-long classes are complimentary for guests who stay for three or more nights. More in-depth master classes of two and a half hours, are offered for NZ$195 per person. The focus will be on getting the best out of quality, seasonal ingredients and preparing restaurant-quality dishes at home. An apron, a notebook, pen, and recipes are provided for guests joining master classes.
“Each cooking class is geared around the individual guests and the day’s creation can be incorporated into the menu that evening, or as a lunch dish. We are able to accommodate specific requests if a guest would like to learn a particular recipe or dish,” says Stapley.
Throughout the season, two daily classes are offered: a morning class from 10:30am to 1:00pm, and an afternoon class from 1:30pm to 4:00pm.Seasonal recipes from Whare Kea Lodge and Chalet are featured in a stunning book produced by Martyn and Louise Myer, WANAKA Earth to Heaven at Whare Kea, by Michal McKay, with photographs by Kieran Scott. The winner for New Zealand and fourth place worldwide in the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2012, the book is available at leading bookstores in Australia including Lesley McKay’s Bookshop, Woollahra, NSW; My Bookshop by Corrie Perkin, Hawksburn, Vic, at Myer stores in Sydney and Melbourne, online at wharekealodge.com, and at fishpond.com.au. Around $65, Godwit, an imprint of Random House.
Source = Whare Kea Lodge and Chalet