A night of gourmet cuisine in historic Oamaru heralds the start of a Celebrity Chef series for boutique Pen-y-bryn Lodge.
An intimate group of just 31 guests were the first to enjoy a stunning three-course dinner at the award-winning lodge this weekend, with Masterchef celebrity Jax Hamilton.
The day consisted of Jax overseeing and preparing for the dinner and an evening welcoming the guests and undertaking a highly entertaining, interactive cooking demonstration.
USA-born lodge owners James Glucksman and James Boussy were thrilled with how the night went, which included an interactive session where guests helped roll out pasta and build ravioli for the Pumpkin and Prawn Ravioli first course.
“We’ve lived and travelled all over the world and love our food and wine, so since we bought Pen-y-bryn just over a year ago and made Oamaru our home it’s been our dream to bring some of New Zealand and the world’s best-known chefs here to our patch of paradise.
“Over the years we’ve become renowned for dinner parties we’ve thrown at our homes around the world, showcasing recipes and wines we’ve picked up on our travels, so as self-confessed ‘foodies’ it was a joy to host Jax at Pen-y-bryn and for all of us to enjoy a night of unforgettable cuisine and lots of laughs.”
A number of dinner guests stayed at the lodge on a special ‘Weekend with Jax’ package, while others flocked from around the Waitaki district.
“The meat, the wine and all the produce was local, which people really appreciated, right down to local lamb, locally milled flour, organic eggs and vegetables that came from the lodge garden,” said James Glucksman.
Lamb shanks were served with balsamic and red wine reduction, Agria potatoes were served with truffle oil and a selection of root vegetables turned and roasted with duck fat, and the dessert was a Cheeky Chocolate Fondant with orange-scented whipped cream.
Jax said she was thrilled with the evening and her Oamaru experience.
“The evening was very personal and the people of Oamaru were stunning, the best kind of Kiwi’s and guests,” she said.
“Pen-y-bryn is wonderful, just like a castle, and James and James are brilliant –the whole event ran like clockwork, the interaction with guests was great fun, and everyone was really pleased to find out the produce was so local. As a celebrity chef series, this was a great start.
“I’ve told them I’d love to come back – we’re looking at possibly early next year.”
Jax signed a copy of the Masterchef cookbook that sits proudly at Pen-y-bryn Lodge with a note saying she was ‘inspired by the Jameses’.
And she didn’t go home empty-handed, sampling some of the lodge-marinated chorizo and taking some home-made jams, which she described as “the best jam I’ve ever tasted”.
Mr Glucksman said the lodge was having discussions with a number of chefs from around New Zealand and details of the next celebrity dinner would be announced soon.
More about Pen-y-bryn Lodge and the Jameses
Pen-y-bryn Lodge is a small luxury hotel offering exclusive Lodge-style accommodation in five elegant and superbly appointed guestrooms with modern en-suite facilities in a hillside location overlooking historic Oamaru with views of sea and mountains.
Pen-y-bryn Lodge was built in 1889 for Oamaru businessman John Bulleid, who gave the building a Welsh namemeaning “On Top of the Hill” in honour of his Wales-born wife, Fanny. Reputedly the largest single-level wooden structure in Australasia, the house retains many of its original furnishings and fittings, giving it a very elegant, yet comfortable, feeling. Converted into a lodge in the mid-1990s, and bearing five Qualmark stars, Pen-y-bryn offers guests a rare combination of authentic Kiwi heritage and modern convenience.
Hosts James Glucksman and James Boussy (aka ‘the Jameses’), purchased Pen-y-bryn in 2010. Born in the United States, they lived and travelled all over the world before deciding to make their home in Oamaru.
Before Pen-y-bryn, James Glucksman had a career in international management consulting and healthcare for more than 20 years, living and working in more than forty countries all over the world. Fluent in Russian and Chinese, and with a very good knowledge of French, Spanish and German (as well as some limited Japanese and Hungarian), James' first love was always fine food and wine. He is a member of the Slow Food movement (the international organisation that promotes local and sustainable foods) and is an Officier Maître Hôtelier (I have since been elevated to Chancelier of the NZ chapter of the Chaîne) in the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the Paris-based gourmet society, in the Bailliage of Christchurch.
James Boussy was a dentist who practiced in the US state of Virginia for 15 years before moving his practice to Beijing. James is also a highly skilled baker, gardener and home renovator, and has made a name for himself among his friends for the exquisite gingerbread houses that he creates as the centrepiece of their annual Christmas party.