Situated above the Golf Course in Wanaka, South Island, NZ. The Bistro Gentil brings the delights of French gastronomy to the beautiful shores of Lake Wanaka. Boasting an ever changing incredible menu of modern french cuisine, mixed with skillfully selected ranges of gallic and local wines.


Award winning Chef James Stapley started his career at the Parklane Hilton in London. He then went on to be the Head Chef of The Premier restaurant in Selfridges for 4 years before moving to New Zealand in 2002. He first came to notice in New Zealand when he joined Pegasus Bay winery, which won Cuisine's Best Winery Restaurant of the year in 2005. After moving on from Pegasus Bay, he did 2 years at the iconic Saggio Di Vino in Christchurch before joining Whare Kea Lodge & Chalet in Wanaka as the Executive Chef for 8 years.
James has been the Executive Chef at Bistro Gentil for the last 18 months, recently receiving one hat at the Cuisine Good Food Awards. As well as all this, he is the owner of Francesca's Italian Kitchen in Wanaka and Christchurch and Kika in Wanaka.

PAN SEARED BROWN TROUT with Crayfish and Paua

French cuisine 




Brown Trout

Paua (Abalone)


Vacuum Packs

Frozen loaf of uncut bread

Young Broad bean leaves

Fresh Fennel Fronds

Fresh Fennel pollen/seeds

Fresh Mustard Leaves

Sliced Almonds




Tenderise the Paua and thinly slice

Fry in pan with butter and a touch of garlic to taste



Blanche the crayfish briefly removing before cooked, remove the flesh from tail, cutting into small disks before putting it into a vacuum-sealed bag with several chunks of butter.

Poach the bag in a *sous-vide for 7 minutes at 56C.


Open and collect the butter from bag by draining it off. This will have picked up the flavour of the crayfish and becomes the base for a sauce. 


Nut Brown Butter Crayfish reduction sauce

Butter drained from crayfish, almond lemons 


Crayfish heads and body's cooked down with 2 tomatoes, 1 onion, 2 garlic cloves and 250ml dry white wine. Cook for 25 mins, blend then pass through a sieve and reduce, this makes the cray reduction.



Cut trout into serving sized pieces with skin removed and place into a vacuum-sealed bag with Olive oil.

Cook in a *sous-vide for 7 minutes at 56C.


Recreate the fish skin with bread by freezing a loaf of uncut bread down and then slice as thinly as possible, laying them out on a tray (a meat slicer is handy for this). Slices should be large enough to cover each fish fillet.


Remove Trout from vacuum bag, drain and then place on sliced bread. Carefully cut around edges of each fish fillet leaving a new bread skin on underneath.

When cooked this bread skin protects the fish and creates a nice crispy skin.

Heat a pan with oil and butter and place fish, bread side down into it to fry and crisp the fish. Turn the fillet once and spoon liquid from pan over the top of the fish which is now bread side up to give it a nice brown crispy finish.

Remember fish is already cooked so only needs to stay in pan long enough to heat fish and crisp the bread skin.


Sous Vide Cooking*
*Temperature controlled cooking in a water bath. Alternatively can be done with a carefully controlled pot of water, using a thermometer to heat water to a consistent 56C.


Manuka Smoked Cream potatoe puree. 

Puree potatoes while mixing with manuka smoked cream over a low heat to create a lovely smokycreamy flavour.


Plating Up

Put a serving of potato puree onto the plate first and add the trout to the top of this. Add a few pieces of crayfish around the sides and several slices of paua to the top.

Pour a small amount of crayfish reduction sauce over the top.

Add in fennel fronds, fennel seeds, broad bean and mustard leaves as desired to add a bit of colour to the dish.