JAmes Viles


Young Restaurateur Judge


Chef and owner of two hatted Biota Dining & Rooms in NSW Bowral, James Viles has become one of Australia’s most respected young chefs and restaurateurs for his commitment to sustainability and his imaginative modern food. When James isn’t in the kitchen, you’ll find him in the forest, on the river or on a farm in the Southern Highlands, hunting, gathering and seeking inspiration for his much lauded restaurant.

James’ vision for Biota Dining was to create a dining destination in regional NSW that supported both local farmers and growers, incorporating seasonal botanicals and drawing on both propagating and foraging for the menu. James’ food is produce and technique driven with a close affiliation to nature.

Winning a coveted chef’s hat in the first year of opening, Biota Dininghas become one of the most awarded regional restaurants in NSW. The restaurant went on to win a second hat in its second year in 2012 as well as the Sustainability Award for its commitment to running using sustainable practices and sourcing its produce ethically as well as growing much of its produce on site. Its grounds include a substantial kitchen garden as well as an onsite glasshouse growing local and imported seedlings, as well as a popular monthly farmer’s market.

James career began at a young age as chef at The Schoolhouse in the Southern Highlands where he had grown up. As head chef at the restaurant, he received the accolade of being one of the youngest chefs ever awarded a Sydney Morning Herald Chef’s Hat, at the age of 23.

James then worked overseas for a number of years to gain experience in the kitchens of some of the world’s best chefs. He was involved with the openings of several acclaimed restaurants and hotels throughout the Middle East and Europe, and worked alongside chefs such as two-star Michelin Chef Hans Haas of Tantris in Munich and Alain Ducasse at Spoon in Hong Kong. James also presented with Lyndey Milan on Channel Nine’s cooking show Fresh, and has appeared on Channel 7’s Weekend Sunrise, Channel 10’s The Living Room as well as other radio and television programs.

In 2013 James opened 12 rooms on Biota’s beautiful grounds. All 12 comfortable Scandinavian- style rooms have queen or king beds, modern bathrooms and facilities, and outlooks onto the Biota Dining grounds and gardens. 

In November 2015, James released his first cookbook, Biota Dining, published by Murdoch Books, and has also made small batches of products that he sells at markets and at Biota. 

James has a regular stall at Sydney’s longest-running Growers’ Market, The Sydney Morning Herald Growers’ Market, and is a frequent guest chef on the celebrity chef stage.

James has appeared at numerous food and wine events both locally and internationally and was recently selected as an ambassador for NSW during Tourism Australia’s Invite the World to Dinner campaign. In 2013 James was selected as one of Australia’s ten best chefs that cooked alongside René Redzepi at a dinner in Sydney as part of Good Food Month.

In late 2015 James spent three days with good mates and fellow chefs Mark Labrooy, David Moyle and Aaron Turner, hunting and gathering produce for a long lunch, as part of Good Food Month. They only used what they had around them which meant no kitchen and no refrigeration. The cooked on open fire and Sydney Morning Herald journalist Callan Boys coined the lunch ‘best Good Food Month event ever’.

2018 is set to be James’ biggest year yet. With a TV series in early discussions and guest chef stints confirmed at luxury properties in New Zealand and the Northern Territory, James has cemented his place as an authority in the Australian food scene.

Biota has retained its two hats since its second year of opening. James’s extra-curricular roles outside of his restaurant include, regular  travel through the top end of AUSTRALIA documenting ingredients, he is an Ambassador to AUSTRALIA.


James recently finished a TVC commercial for JAGUAR LAND ROVER that has been nominated for a series of awards in its category.

James attends regular symposiums abroad both as a speaker and guest, on the future of food in our society.

James Published his first book in 2015 titled BIOTA – GROW GATHER COOK. A publication by Murdoch books.