James started his career in London in the mid-90s training at Michelin Star restaurant ‘Windows’ at the Park Lane Hilton. He then went on to be the Head Chef of a Terence Conran restaurant The Premier, in Selfridges on Oxford Street. After moving to Christchurch, New Zealand in 2003, James took on his first Head Chef role at Pegasus Bay Winery in Waipara. It went on to win Cuisine Magazine’s ‘Best Casual Restaurant’ just two years later. James then moved to Wanaka and took on the role of Executive Chef at the stunning Relais and Chateau property on the shores of Lake Wanaka where he offered a daily changing 6 course degustation menu for a maximum of 12 inhouse guests.
In 2016, James decided to open his own restaurant, Kika, where the focus was on innovative, seasonal, sharing plates including the use of the best New Zealand produce available. Kika has proved to be a hugely popular restaurant being fully booked for most of the year. Kika’s accolades includes receiving 1 Hat from Cuisine Magazine in 2022 and recently featured on the San Pellegrino ‘World’s Top 50’ discovery list for one of the Best Up and Coming Restaurants in the world.
Over the last couple of years James has also opened Arc Tapas Bar, Paloma Taqueria and Kamino Cafe, all in Wanaka, Central Otago. James’s love for unique and incredible New Zealand produce drew him to Ōra king salmon.