Mr Viles

James Viles | Biota Dining Review | Oliver Grand 1

It’s very hard to describe James Viles without including the word ‘overachiever’ somewhere. At 23, he was one of the youngest chefs to be awarded a Chef’s Hat from Bowral’s The Schoolhouse. In six years, he jetsetted around the globe, working with 110 chefs and five internationally acclaimed restaurants. April 2011, he launched his own restaurant, Biota Dining, which has already collected its fair share of accolades, including Regional Restaurant of the Year and two hats in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide 2014. It’s enough to make anyone take a step back in awe (or maybe take a step closer to try and soak up some of his talent!). With his approachable personality, he’s as much at home hands deep in the dirt of his garden as he is in lofty Michelin-starred kitchens. We sit down with James to talk about family and his passion for the organic, local produce that fuels Biota’s food philosophy.

Above: James Wears Emporio Armani Black Jersey Knit $535, Emporio Armani Leather Blouson $1665

OG: Cooking to me is…

Curious, freedom, creative, resourceful, respectful

OG: If you could describe yourself as a dish. What would it be?

Not quite sure, I guess it would be calculated and free form, I enjoy life to be just that. Free from complication and hassle with space to create and reflect.

OG: Can you talk us through the meaning behind Biota and why this so aptly represents the venue?

Biota means quite simply the balance of animal and plant life of a particular region, and our restaurant is simply the vehicle to connect people with ingredients from Mother Nature.

OG: You’re a country boy, how did you fall into the world of cooking?

I grew up in Scone and Bowral and started working in a local Butcher shop when I was 12. I also worked in a local hotel on the weekend making the canapes and polishing cutlery, I guess it was just in my blood. I enjoyed the buzz, the people and the action…and of course I loved the food, all the wonderful tastes and smells, things I had never tasted or smelt before.

OG: You’ve received many awards, what do all the accolades mean for you?

They are nice, however at Biota we all cook for one common goal, to tell the story of our region and re-define regional Australian cuisine in this era. This is an important role as cooks, the awards are great for the team and it’s nice to be recognised. 

James Viles | oliver grand

James Wears Emporio Armani Tee $255, Emporio Armani Knitted Jacket $850

OG: Your mum Kathy who’s a horticulturalist grows much of the kitchen’s produce on site. How crucial has your family been in your journey?

Without the love and support from my parents, my wife and my daughter I would not be able to do what I do, I owe my entire career to them, they keep me strong and balanced.

OG: Talk us through you footprint of delivering habitats on a plate.

It just makes sense, it’s like joining the dots, Mother Nature provides us with the ingredients in certain parts of the region, we as cooks just have to join the dots. It’s respecting and give us an honest approach and a unique style.

OG: Prior to Biota, you worked overseas in restaurants and hotels throughout the Asia and the Middle East. What was your favorite place?

My favorite place would have been Dubai- for a young bloke Dubai make Vegas feel organic!

OG: Wolfgang Puck says: “A chef is a mixture maybe of artistry and craft. You have to learn the craft really to get there”. What are your thoughts?

He is right. I think we are forever expressing our craft. It’s about defining who you are and where you fit in this field which may take forever… along the way you will learn from others and become solid in your approach.

OG: What advice would you have for anyone thinking of opening their own venue or starting out in the world of chefs and kitchens?

Listen; learn; inspire; read; teach. Love these and let them all come into 15hrs a day 7 days a’s a big jump!

OG: If you had 3 people to invite to dinner who would they be?

Dad (if I didn’t I would never hear the end of it); Herve This (what a character); and my wife (any chance I get to have dinner with her I’ll take).


Photography: Trevor King @ DLM Shot on Location @ Biota Dining.


Mr Bartel

Jimmy Bartel | Oliver Grand x WitcheryMan | 4

You can’t get more iconic Australian than AFL football, a sport that leaves many around the world with jaws open looking on in awe at the athleticism and dedication necessary to be a leading AFL player. Enter Geelong star Jimmy Bartel, not only in an AFL league of his own, three premierships, Brownlow Medallist and two-time All-Australian, his classic style off the field also turns our heads. For WitcheryMan, Jimmy shows us the perfect equation to achieve laid back luxe in the cooler month of July: charm, comfort and confidence.

Above: Jimmy wears WitcheryMan Dip Dye Sweater.

Left: WitcheryMan Capital Hooded Jacket, WitcheryMan Jersey Pant, WitcheryMan Point Sneaker Boot.
Right: WitcheryMan Felt Cap, WitcheryMan Self Stripe Long Sleeve Tee, WitcheryMan Jersey Pant.

Jimmy Bartel | Oliver Grand x WitcheryMan | 5

WitcheryMan Denim Shirt, WitcheryMan Short Sleeve Crew Tee, WitcheryMan Sackville Jean, WitcheryMan Point Sneaker Boot, WitcheryMan Stanley Leather Weekender.

Left: WitcheryMan Capital Hooded Jacket , WitcheryMan Dip Dye Sweater, WitcheryMan York Slim Jean, WitcheryMan New Gen Sneaker.
Right: WitcheryMan Denim Shirt.



Photography: Trevor King @DLM / Styling: Oliver Grand / Grooming: Blondie @Viviens Creative


Mr Buzolic

Nathaniel Buzolic | Oliver grand 6

In every good story, there’s something that moves you. Australian actor, Nathaniel Buzolic, best known for his roles on The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and Pretty Little Liars, is a testament to this. Where to begin with this gentleman, who is as talented as he is grounded? His inspirational life story speaks for itself and continues to write its own pages: from his acting to his campaigning against human slavery. On our visit to Los Angeles, we picked his brains about life, love and storytelling.

Above: Nathaniel Wears Emporio Armani Knit POA

Left: Emporio Armani Cotton Elastane Shirt $405, Emporio Armani Leather Jacket $1545, Emporio Armani Cotton Elastane Trousers $555
Right: Emporio Armani Cotton Elastane Shirt $405, Emporio Armani Cotton Elastane Trousers $555, Emporio Armani Shoes $525

Left:  Emporio Armani Cotton Shirt $395, Emporio Armani Wool Viscose Jacket $1345, Emporio Armani Wool Viscose Trousers $695, Emporio Armani Shoes $525
Right: Emporio Armani Textured Cardigan POA

OG: Can you tell us a little about your road to acting and Hollywood dreams?

I’ve always had a passion for two things – storytelling and people. I’m fascinated with trying to understand what drives a soul to do great things or compels another to do the unthinkable; how those people see the world around them and are driven to create change.

My father left when I was two so I grew up in a single parent, low-income household. My mother is amazing! She did everything she could so that my brother and I wouldn’t miss out on anything. However, from early on, I had to work to help support my mum financially. My first job was in a video store, cleaning shelves after school. It was boring and the dust never seemed to end but this unwanted responsibility allowed me to watch movies while I cleaned those shelves. The Basketball Diaries starring Leonardo DiCaprio was the first film I remember watching. I was in awe of his storytelling ability and, soon enough, I had watched every film I could find him in. I think this was when I first wished to be an actor. So as my story goes, hard work and consistent persistence would see me finally make it to Hollywood some 15 years later. And my story continues…

OG: You’re a storyteller by nature, what is it about stories that moves you?

Storytelling has the ability to move people, to inspire, to encourage and to change how someone thinks. To share stories is to be human. It’s in our blood. History is proof that while people pass away, their stories live on. So for me being a part of storytelling is living more than just one lifetime. 

OG:  You’ve worked on some huge shows, what do you love about working on television? Any favourite people you’ve worked with?

I get a buzz about being on set because no two days are ever the same. As an actor on a television show you often forget that other people will watch your work and be completely connected to the story that is being told. What I enjoy most is how an audience can interact with each story in their own way. Where one person can love your character, someone hates them for the very same reasons. I’d have to say I’ve really enjoyed working with Joseph Morgan and Daniel Gillies who play my brothers in The Vampire Diaries and now star in The Originals. Both are extremely talented actors with very different approaches to the work, but each has this ability to bring the words on the page to life.

OG: Can you fill us in on what you’re currently working on?

There are a few opportunities that are in the pipeline, but sadly I can’t give anything away at this stage. All I can share is that I am back on the audition circuit trying to find the next story that I can be a part of.

OG: For our readers who are planning on giving showbiz a go, what wisdom do you have for them?

Our world is consumed by the idea of success and failure. But I have seen first hand that success in this business is a nothing more then a brief moment that is quickly replaced by another dream, another hope or another goal. Therefore my advice is simple: Yes, find what you love to do and chase it with all of your heart for all of your days, but don’t be consumed by the word ‘success’. Instead focus on the word  ‘experience’ and whatever story comes from your journey. That is the story you were meant to tell. I don’t want to be defined by what I do, I want to be defined by who I am.

OG: You’re actively involved in the ‘End It’ movement against human slavery. Why is this so important to you?

‘End It’ is a campaign, with a team of ten coalition partners, to create awareness about the ongoing global issue of slavery. There are more slaves in the world today than we have ever had before. 27 million men, women and children in 161 different countries are classified as modern day slaves. 27 million people who no longer have the basic human right of freedom, free will or an opportunity to make their own choices. Whether it is forced labor or human trafficking, this problem is real and continues to hide in the shadows of our societies. The ‘End It’ movement’s goal is simple: to shine a light on slavery so it can no longer continue unnoticed and unchallenged.

During my campaigning I have been astounded at the number of people who have told me that the problem is too big and things will never change. “You will never beat this Nathaniel. Slavery was here before you and it will be when you’re long gone. “Yes, my goal is to end modern day slavery globally and, yes, I may never be able to achieve this personally. But I know personally I can change at least one life, and if I can change at least one, then I know I can change more. So maybe slavery will outlive my lifetime, but slavery will not outlive the lifetime of the person you can save. So I will continue to raise my voice and I will continue to fight for this cause.

OG: You’re an Aussie guy with a Croatian background, hailing from Sydney. What’s the importance of home to you? What would we find you doing on a day back in Sydney?

There is no place like home. There is no place like home. There is no place like home… Ahhhh darn, didn’t work, must not be wearing my red sparkly shoes! I miss Sydney, miss my mum, miss my mates and miss the feeling I get when I’m back home. A perfect day for me would be waking up and have my mum nag me to make my bed and put my cereal bowl in the sink; head to Tamarama beach for the day, come home to homemade lasagna, look at the stars over Sydney town and call it a night.

OG: You’ve travelled all over the world with work. What’s at the top of you list?

My favourite place in the world is Hvar in Croatia where my family is from. It’s a small island with a population of 4,000 people. Surrounded by the Adriatic Sea, it’s a peaceful place that has an old-world feel to it. Before I call it a day from this lifetime, I’d like to live out a few days there. That, and I’d love to see Jerusalem, the Holy City.

OG: “You’re rarer than a dandelion and burdock and those other girls are just post-mix lemonade” (Arctic Monkeys). Do you want to share your thoughts on love?

I’m a hopeless romantic so I believe in love. It is actually the one thing we all wish to have and the one thing we can’t live without. To love and to be loved. If you believe in love, you have no choice but to also believe in that one true love. From the second you see that person you will know and from that point onwards your heart will say to your head, “I told you so”. But here’s the catch, you won’t know till the very end of the film – but hey, that’s life…and hey, that’s love!

OG: If you could invite 4 people, dead or alive, to a dinner party who would they be?

I would invite James Dean and Heath Ledger: both were great actors who I truly respected and two actors who sadly passed well before their time. I think it would be interesting to hear their take on the business and life itself. I would also invite Jesus and Louie Giglio. These are two people who have inspired me. I believe in Jesus and his teachings have given me my greatest wisdoms to navigate through this world. Louie Giglio, the pastor of Passion City Church, is one of the few people I look up to in this world, a man of God who is also a great storyteller.


Photography: Trevor King @DLM / Styling: Oliver Grand / Grooming: Guy Romeo @DLM LA


The Imperials

McQueen, Saint Laurent, Margiela, Tom and Thom. Indisputably in a league of their own, these five designers’ clothes have an unmistakeable blueprint that elevates one’s look from fashion to true style. Showcasing the new Autumn/Winter looks, all found at Harrolds, we show you how we salute the imperials.

The Imperials | Oliver Grand | Editorials 3

Alexander McQueen
Shirt $445, Red Tie $225, Trousers $785, Bag $995, Brass Scull Bracelet $695


Tom Ford
Roll Neck Knit $1190, Velvet Blazer $9490, Jeans $1090, Velvet Sneakers $825


The Imperials | Oliver Grand | Editorials | 2

Saint Laurent
Zebra Sweater $1425, Printed Shirt (worn underneath) $795, Leather Pants $595, High Top Sneakers $790, Walter Knoll Cuoio Lounge with sheepskin $3602  @Living Edge


Maison Martin Margiela 
(Left) Collared Shirt $375, Chunky Cardigan $1540

Thom Browne 
(Right) Check Shirt $495, Bomber Jacket $2790, Printed Sweat Pants $525, Monk Strap Leather Shoes $1195, Black Sunglasses $475

All Pieces Available @ Harrolds


Photography: Trevor King @DLM / Model: Jimmy Young-Whitforde @Priscillas / Styling: Oliver Grand / Grooming: Anthony Nader @Viviens Creative for Oribe Hair Care / Shot on Location @Luxe Studios


Biota Dining and Rooms

Biota Dining Review | Oliver Grand

From the time you walk in until the time you leave Biota, you are immersed in a place secure in its identity, from the interior designs and accommodation through to the plating. Located in Bowral in the midst of vivid orange autumn leaves, gardens and a pond, complete with a little boat and dock, the surroundings of Biota Dining paint a beautiful backdrop of rural influences and earthy philosophy.

The clean, minimalist interior furnishings are enhanced by details, like apple tree branches along the room, little vases filled with locally sourced moss, classic artwork and unique light fixtures overhanging the tables. This cosy elegance is carried through to the quaint accommodation that Biota also offers with sheepskin rugs and willow wood above our bed sealing off the rustic experience.

We had the perfect start to our dinner which saw us grabbing pre-drinks at the bar in front of the fireplace (you cannot miss out on this, perfection on a chilly winter night). Dinner was a five course meal with wine, served throughout by a young but very professional and passionate waiter, beginning with an unexpected but welcome surprise of dehydrated trout preserved on a stick inside a rock (delicious seafood jerky to whet the appetite). The unique eye to detail continued to impress throughout the meal – even our bread and butter was served with a cheeky twist, resting on top of a heated hessian bag and rock. Next was the smoked roe, storm clam, charcoal and sea lettuce which saw the crunchy coconut ‘charcoal’ served as a perfect textural counterpoint to the softness of the roe and clams and tempered by a rich, creamy dressing (now readers I’m a huge seafood lover and loved the fishy tastiness of the roe salad, however this is one best for intense seafood lovers). The second course was wonderfully light and fresh, combining creamy, soft hen yolk with extra soft cooked curds, crunchy rye crumbs and salty chickpea shavings. The lamb breast, dried lactose and freshly cooked oats followed (yes, as you can imagine it was an unusual dish but my apprehension was won over as the lamb was well flavoured and not too overpowering). The last of the savoury dishes was hands down my favourite (this is an order, you must try this)! Duck, pine twigs, cauliflower puree and white raisins – a visually simple dish with a great balance of flavours and just the right serving size for a fourth course. Now you all know I love desserts and anything textured so the dessert hit my spot. Whilst it looked like a deconstructed cake, it played with crumbly, creamy textures and chocolate flavours, with just a subtle hint of apple and pear fruitiness. Another dish which sums up the themes of the Biota dining experience: thoughtful, delicious, creative food.

Oliver Grand Says:
Biota Dining is country elegance at its best with all the dishes and accommodation embodying the restaurant’s distinctive theme and philosophy so well. For good reason it has won Regional Restaurant of the Year 2014 and Regional Wine List of the Year 2014. Aptly representing rustic habitat served on a plate with natural produce, this is the perfect place for a romantic country getaway in style. Make the effort to travel out here, you’ll definitely be rewarded with a beautiful retreat and a meal with fine attention to detail, worthy of its beautiful, natural surroundings.

Biota Dining and Rooms,

18 Kangaloon Rd,

Bowral NSW 2576

+61 (2) 4862 20057



Photography: Jason Loucas