Hailing from coastal New Jersey, Meritage at Callaway’s Executive Chef, Michael Henry, was lured into the culinary world at age 13, cooking at restaurants along the Jersey Shore. Michael realized his passion and enthusiasm for food, leading him to Johnson and Wales University and eventually an apprenticeship in an upscale local Italian restaurant.
Michael wanted to further develop his cooking technique and style, so in 1993 he headed west to San Diego. He worked as Executive Chef at Café Del Mar for three years, perfecting his culinary philosophy and creativity.
Feeling the need to travel abroad, Michael took life-changing visits to Europe, Central and South America. He feels perhaps the greatest influence on his cooking came from this journey, exposing him to the philosophy of “shopping for the day”, ensuring the freshest in regional and local ingredients.
Returning to San Diego in 1999, Michael cooked at the Pamplemousse Grille under Chef Jeffrey Strauss and later for Chef Vincent Grumel at the eponymous Vincent’s in Escondido. The creation of true Provincial French food utilizing impeccable ingredients greatly influenced his culinary approach.
In 2002, Michael moved back to New Jersey and worked under Chef Robert Irvine as Sous Chef at Caesar’s Atlantic City. A year later, he was promoted to Restaurant Chef at the highly touted Bacchanal Restaurant. In 2005, having an opportunity to move to California again, Michael settled in as a Chef de Cuisine at the Mission Inn Riverside until 2008.
At Meritage at Callaway, Michael’s goal is to create diverse, seasonal menus that accentuate Callaway’s long history of fine Temecula wine. The cuisine will be based on the “small plate” concept of big flavor and variety, with menu selections being paired with the best of what Callaway Winery offers. Michael hopes to meld all he has seen, tasted and experienced into soulful memories for all who dine here.