James Egan

James Egan


Orange, NSW 


I grew up in and around kitchens. My mother was a Chef and this is where my passion for food came from. My earliest memories are of sitting on a bench watching the busy kitchen and being handed delicious morsels to snack on. 

From the age of 12, I would help in the evenings washing dishes and doing light preparation jobs for some extra pocket money. From here, I decided that school was not for me and dropped out to start a baking/pastry apprentice at age 15.

After completing this apprenticeship, I went into hotel chains as a Pastry Chef and subsequently completed my commercial cookery before moving on to luxury lodges with much more refined offerings.

I spent a lot of time on Lord Howe Island where I started to refine my cooking and use more native and local ingredients, changing menus daily was a huge help in my creativity and I believe this was where I started finding my style.

I then had the opportunity to move to Orpheus Island Lodge where I was working under Paul Wilson, who showed me an immense amount of new techniques to help me further my cooking style and myself.

After some time, the role of Executive Chef was open at Orpheus Island Lodge where I stayed until moving on to the Daintree Ecolodge, another resort within the Northern Escape Collection as Executive Chef.  

Have you always wanted to be a Chef?

I always had a great passion for food due to my Mum’s influence and could not see myself doing anything else. 

How would you define your style?

Modern Australian, refined simplistic. 

What is your feature flavour these days?

There isn’t one specific flavour, I enjoy using a range of native ingredients to complement classic flavour profiles. 

Obsessive-compulsive about?

Treating ingredients with respect – no matter if plant or protein, it was once a living thing. We need to respect that.

Your greatest culinary influence: 

There are so many - my mother for teaching me the basics, all the talented people I worked both under and with for their knowledge and creative input; and Chefs like Sean Brock, Daniel Humm, David Kinch, Simon Rogan, Christopher Kostow, Martin Benn and the list goes on, for constantly pushing the boundaries and sharing their ideas with us all. 

What do you love about this business?

The camaraderie, giving people a memorable experience, bringing people together and the creative aspect always keeps the work interesting. 

An ingredient you can’t live without?

Eggs – from pastry to savoury, they are an endlessly versatile gift.  

Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?

I wouldn’t say eyebrow-raising, but we are constantly trying to incorporate classic flavour combinations with local and native ingredients. Whether it’s the use of strawberry gum in desserts, or green ants on ceviche, there are plenty of surprise combinations to be experimented with. 

Signature dish:

No signature dish, I believe that dishes can always evolve to become something greater. 

Julaymba Restaurant & Gallery

Julaymba Restaurant & Gallery

Enjoy some of the finest cuisine the Daintree has to offer at Julaymba Restaurant & Gallery on Mossman Daintree Road. Nestled in Daintree Ecolodge, Julaymba has a balcony terrace with a lagoon view to soak up all that nature has to offer as diners peruse a gourmet menu created with native ingredients. From breakfast to dinner, every bite is a rare flavourful discovery - expect to delve into the likes of lemon myrtle pancakes, pistachio, local honey, double cream and tropical fruit to begin the day; while evening diners kick start a memorable meal with whole chilled prawns, lime and tabasco emulsion. For the main, be enticed by beef rump cap, celeriac, mushroom, onion, kale and black garlic; finishing indulgently with a dessert of strawberry gum parfait.

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