Gabriel Waterhouse

Gabriel Waterhouse

‘I wanted to still be cooking food of that level,’ he explains, ‘but without all the baggage that comes with it. There’s so much structure in a restaurant like that. You’re constantly going through the same motions and have to be very focused the whole time; everything started to feel quite robotic and it would take a while to get out of that headspace. At the same time, I was also very aware that I’d been cooking other people’s food for years and was keen to move away from that and try and discover my own style.’

In 2015, whilst still working at La Chapelle, Gabriel decided to do his first ever supper clubs out of his Bethnal Green flat, initially just for friends and family and then for paying customers. ‘I just bought two tables and put them together in my living room,’ he explains, ‘I was basically serving tasting menus out of my kitchen, which I’d change every month to push me to create new stuff. A lot of it for me was also about getting rid of that disconnect between what goes on behind the scenes in a restaurant and what customers see.’ His intimate twelve-person dinners proved an instant hit, and Gabriel was allowed by Jeff Galvin to take Friday and Saturday evenings off work, so that he could continue running them. Gabriel named his supper club concept The Water House Project and, after six months of balancing his time between restaurant shifts and hosting dinners, he left La Chapelle to make it his entire focus.

The Water House Project quickly outgrew Gabriel’s home kitchen and relocated to a warehouse on Vyner Street and then to Mare Street, before finding a larger, permanent home near Regent’s Canal in 2021. Whilst its relocation led Gabriel to move away from the communal dining aspect of the concept, there’s still a distinct focus on the connection between the chefs and the customers, ‘it was really important for me that there was no barrier between the kitchen and the customers,’ he explains. ‘That connection between us as a team and our guests is definitely a focus.’

The food has always been just as important as the ambience for Gabriel though, and throughout the various iterations of the Water House Project, his style has constantly evolved, ‘I’m always seeking to grow and improve what I’m doing,’ he says. ‘if the dishes aren’t getting better they shouldn’t be on the menu. I always want to retain a balance between having a very natural aesthetic but one that’s grounded in really good cooking. I'd definitely say it's the combination of flavours and ingredients that drives my food though.’

It was a bold decision from Gabriel to leave behind the world of traditional fine dining in 2015 to forge a path of his own, but it’s one that has more than paid off for him. Not only has he created a unique restaurant which breaks down the barriers between chef and diner and proves that the ambience of a supper club can be recreated on a larger scale, but he’s also continued to develop into a wonderfully thoughtful chef of immense skill and creativity.