Bay Voyage’s new chef hopes to work with local farms
There have been some changes made at the Bay Voyage Restaurant this year. The restaurant is part of the Bay Voyage Inn & Resort, which is owned by Wyndham Vacation Resorts.
The resort’s fine dining restaurant recently announced the hiring of two veterans of the local culinary industry. The new restaurant manager is Lisel Woods.
“I live in Newport. I’ve been here for about 20 years,” she said. “I came here to open a retail store but ended up going into restaurant management at Johnson & Wales.”
She continued: “I eventually became the co-owner of the Salvation Cafe. I was there for several years and then I wanted to open a daytime operation so I opened Bliss Natural Grocer and Cafe on Broadway. I was there for about three years, got stressed out, and decided to look elsewhere. I got this job almost simultaneously with closing Bliss.”
Woods has already implemented some changes at the Bay Voyage. “We revamped our dinner menu and we’re really pleased with it,” she said. “I think next we’ll ramp up the brunch a bit and get that to the place where we really want it to be. We look forward to the summer. We’re planning a bunch of really fun new things and trying to draw some of the Jamestowners back to the place too because I feel like we’re reinventing it again.”
The restaurant has also hired a new executive chef, Casey Shea.
“One of the things that I was looking for was farm-to-table cuisine,” Woods said. “Casey is a very seasonal cook and he’ll change his menus quite frequently. We really cook for the season. When certain vegetables are available, that’s what we serve. That’s the kind of cooking that we’re trying to introduce into the restaurant, and I think that we’re doing a great job with that.”
Shea has been living and working in Newport for about 15 years. “I moved to Newport when I was attending Johnson & Wales. Once I finished school, I started working in the local restaurants and just stuck around,” he said. “I worked at the Cookhouse, Tucker’s Bistro and the Left Deck. I also did some work for The Rhumbline recently.”
Shea is the son of an Air Force colonel and derived his culinary interest from a childhood spent traveling from place to place. “I traveled all over this country and overseas as well.”
Shea said he spend his childhood growing up in Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Texas, Maine and Virginia.
“I spent a lot of time moving around, seeing different foods, and different ways of eating,” he said.
“That got my interest in the variety of food out there and the differences in food,” he continued. “The foods were different, the way people eat was different, but every culture shared the meals. I never knew it was going to be my career when I was traveling, but it was something I was interested in.”
Working with local farmers is an important part of Shea’s farmto table philosophy. He said he is looking forward to working with the farms in Jamestown.
“I’ve only been at the Bay Voyage for two months so I haven’t been able to spend too much time getting the ingredients I would like to get from the farms,” he said. He added that as the season moves on, he hopes to get to know the island farms and what they have to offer.
The Bay Voyage Restaurant has four distinct areas. The formal dining room, which looks out on the waterfront, is known as the Bay Room. Seating has also been added to the bar area, now known at the Tavern Room, where a more casual atmosphere prevails.
The Verandah is used as a special occasion room for parties and other events, and the deck is the place for summer afternoon cocktails. A Thursday night music series will begin in June.
The award-winning brunch at the Bay Voyage is among the restaurant’s most important elements. “We’re still doing the same brunch we’ve always done,” Woods said. “We haven’t really changed that, but we’re planning on introducing more of our style of cooking in the very near future.”
Shea added, “The brunch is the biggest challenge right now. Keeping the reputation where it is and hopefully improving it. I also want to put a little bit of my personality, my style of food into the brunch. I want to keep the quality and the freshness of what we offer, and keep the aesthetic of the brunch.”
Attracting Jamestown residents to the Bay Voyage is a priority for Woods. “I want Jamestowners to claim it for their own,” she said. “It’s got a gorgeous bar and a gorgeous view. I want them to feel like it’s their place where they can come and be comfortable.”
The local community is also a key factor for Shea. “I want to bring the Bay Voyage back to the local people of the Jamestown area. It’s always been more of a special occasion place to go. I want it to be a little more accessible to the local people. I want to bring the agriculture of the southern New England and the fish from New England to the plate in Jamestown.”
Beginning in June, the Bay Voyage will serve lunch and dinner Wednesday through Saturday, and its award-winning brunch on Sunday.