Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Home / Featured  / Creating Wanaka’s Paloma

Creating Wanaka’s Paloma

Acclaimed Wānaka chef James Stapley, whose restaurant Kika recently won its first hat in the New Zealand Cuisine Good Food Awards, knows a thing or two about new eatery start-ups with four already to his name.

Owner of Kika, Arc and Wee Tart, James and his partner Sarah Scott have spent the last 12 months planning Paloma, a Mexican and South American inspired restaurant. The vibrant space with its own courtyard and upstairs outdoor bar is at the eastern end of Wānaka’s The Precinct laneway and open from mid-July. 

The Paloma interior is authentic with warm tones, terracotta tiles and pink accents offering an elevated Santa Fe feel.

“We have allowed ourselves quite a bit of freedom in our Mexican food translation,” says James. “The whole idea was to create the very best taco we possibly could from scratch.”

 James and his chefs have crafted their own tortilla making process with impressive results.

“Making tacos from New Zealand  New Zealand sourced corn is in a way, comparable to the difference between dried pasta and fresh pasta. We use a dried variety of corn from the Hawkes Bay that we mix and grind into our own fresh dough. I’ve imported a tortilla press from the States – a conveyor belt one – that when the dough is placed in one end it spits out the tortillas at the other end.”

The new Wānaka restaurant has its own Argentinian grill where assorted vegetables and meats are cooked then served on a fresh corn tortilla and in other highly creative dishes.

James enthusiasm for food and drink innovation is endless and his cultured re-interpretation of South American dishes and flavours at Paloma sets it apart.

“It’s not the kind of Mexican spot where you will find lots of traditional skulls.  “We have a little tequila bar inside inside serving tequila cocktails, wines and bottled beers with a casual social vibe and festive family style space indoors and spilling outside into the open courtyard,” says James. “People can come in with their mates for a few cold beers and tacos or cocktails upstairs. Equally you can bring the whole family for some quick and delicious tacos and tortillas in a space where everyone feels welcome.”