Exclusive Recipe from Grand Chef James Stapley

The Luxe-life

Image: Credit Daniel Mahon & Colin Page
Relais & Châteaux


For those privy to the luxury industry, there is a very exclusive club that chefs, restaurateurs and even sommeliers want to be part of. I’m of course talking about Relais & Chateaux, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. If you are extremely lucky and a seeker of all things luxury, you will already know and have experienced Relais & Chateaux in one way or another.

With over 520 establishments around the world, new destinations such as Latvia, Russia and even South Korea, food trucks and street food no longer catch my fancy.

If you don’t have an excuse to splash out on a romantic getaway, I’ve pulled together a few of my friends from Relais & Chateaux and asked for their Signature Dishes. Just be warned, these are Grand Chefs – the recipes are long, finicky but totally worth it if you want a taste of the luxe-life.

In a four part series, let’s celebrate the 60th birthday of the Luxe-lifestyle with author and luxury travel expert Michelle Tchea


” The B*Critic says: Local produce, lots of dot points – save this for the weekend to play with “

Week 1: James Stapley

As Executive Chef at Whare Kea Lodge& Chalet,James Stapley ultimately became the mastermind behind the sumptuous yet subtle cuisine that surpasses the demands of a discerning international clientele at Whare Kea .

Image: Credit Daniel Mahon & Colin Page

Marron, Prawn water and Prawn Crackers

Serves 6
Prawn Crackers
280g whole prawns, peeled and cooked, reserve the shells
280g tapioca flour
1 Tbsp salt
Put two cups of water in a pan and add the prawn shells. Simmer for 10 minutes then pass the liquid through a sieve into a bowl and refrigerate the liquid.
Blend the prawns in a blender until smooth then add the salt and tapioca flour and blend for a further 30 seconds. Add enough of the prawn water to bring the prawn mix to a dough.
Put the prawn dough on a bench and knead until a nice smooth dough has formed. This should take a couple of minutes. Divide the dough into two and roll each piece into a sausage shape. Steam for 1 hour in a Thermomix, steamer or bamboo steamer.  Cling film the steamed dough and refrigerate overnight.
Slice the dough on a meat slicer or mandolin as thinly as possible then dehydrate in a dehydrator at 65°c for 30 minutes.
Store in an airtight container until needed.
Get a pan with 1 litre of Rice Bran oil on the heat until it reaches 200°C. Drop the crackers in four at a time until puffed up. This takes only about 5 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with marron salt.
Marron salt
100g Marron shells
100g salt
Roast the marron shells for 1 hour on 160°C then blend with the salt until very fine.
Miso Caramel
200 g caster sugar
100 g water
2 large tbsp Miso paste
Make a caramel with the water and sugar, once the caramel has reached the desired colour remove from the heat.  Add the miso paste and keep stirring. As it is cooling down stir in 2 tablespoons of water and set aside until ready to use.
Prawn water
1kg prawns, whole with the shell and the head on
1 litre water
1 Tbsp sliced lemongras
2 shallots, sliced
2 sprigs lemon verbena
Juice of 1 lemon
Blend the prawns with the water in a Thermomix for 1 minute.  Put the blended prawn mix in a pan and bring to the simmer stirring all the time. Once it has come to a simmer, turn down the heat to low and cook unstirred for 15 minutes.
Put some cheesecloth or a clean tea towel in a fine chinois and put it over a large bowl. Ladle the prawn stock through the chinois and let the clean liquid drip through into the bowl.
Put the clear water on the heat and add the shallots, lemon verbena, salt and lemongrass and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add the juice of a lemon and pass through a sieve into a bowl. Set aside until needed.
6 x 170g live marron
Olive Oil
For garnish:
Samphire blanched for 1 minute then into ice water
Pea shoots
Broad bean flowers
Fresh Seaweed
Get a large pan of water on to boil.
Cut through the head of the marron to kill it quickly. Cook in boiling water for 9 minutes. Remove from the water and refrigerate until cold.
Remove the marron body from the shell, slice down the centre and remove the claws from the shell.
To Serve
Smear a little of the miso caramel on the serving plate. Brush the marron with a little olive oil and put on top of the miso. Arrange some cooked samphire, pea shoots, broad bean flowers and seaweed scattered over this. Add a small bowl of the warm prawn water and a couple of prawn crackers on the side.

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