Thursday, August 1, 2013

New Whitewater chef plans sleeker look, casual contemporary menu

Joel Henry, the new chef at Whitewater Grill
Chef Joel Henry says he hopes to have the Whitewater Grill on River Parkway opened back up by the middle of August. When it does, it will have a new menu and a sleeker look.

"We want to modernize it without making it cold," said Henry, 32, who grew up in Traverse City, Mich. It was there that he became executive chef of Poppycock's at age 21. He attended the Johnson and Wales College of Culinary Arts in Providence, R.I., but thinks there is no substitute for working in an actual restaurant kitchen.

"I believe in old-school no-frills cooking," he said. "It's a trade. You can go almost anywhere and get a job."

No-frills doesn't mean no imagination, however. "If you're not creative enough, there's no reason to be doing what you're doing," he said.

The new Whitewater menu will feature what Henry calls Casual Contemporary American food. He also plans to remodel the back of the restaurant into a tapas bar featuring small-plate dishes.

Next spring, the remodel will include the addition of a deck on the roof, where people can truly "eat by the tumbling waters." When that's finished, the restaurant will be able to handle 145 diners. Henry anticipates employing 15 people when everything is at full capacity.

To contact him, e-mail