Cultural Stories

Black Chefs in America:
Kwame Onuwachi

One of the rising stars of the culinary world, Kwame has already had a series of successes. A graduate from the Culinary Institute of America, in 2015 he skyrocketed to fame with his appearance on Top Chef. After his TV debut, he went on to open two restaurants. The First, Shaw Bijou was housed out of a converted townhouse in the Washington, D.C Shaw neighborhood and served an ambitious 13-course tasting menu. The second, Kith and Kin, was opened in 2017 with help from InterContinental Hotel on the Washington D.C. waterfront.

Kith and Kin served Afro-Caribbean influenced by Onwuachi's family ties to the cities of Louisiana, Jamaica, Trinidad, and of course Nigeria. With rave reviews, Kith and Kin earned Onwuachi a much-deserved Jame Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year award in 2019, increasing his presence and highlighting him as a masterful and capable chef.
During his stint at Kith and Kin, Onwuachi published his memoir, Notes from a Young Black Chef. In it he explored his childhood split between the dueling realities of New York and Nigeria, highlighting the rich history behind his dishes which themselves are mixes of cultures, histories, and memories.

It's in this mix that we can best understand Onwuachi's importance in the current culinary scene. His cuisine, like many other black chefs working in America, bridges the gap between two different culinary worlds. Creating dishes that mix and match flavors, giving equal weight to his time in Nigeria and his time growing up in the Bronx, Onwuachi asks us to investigate the culinary history of dishes we know in love.
At Tatiana, his new home housed out of the David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center, Onwuachi serves tributes to the melting pot of the current culinary scene. Honoring his Bronx he serves an inspired take on chopped cheese buns found in bodegas everywhere. Building on his Afro-Caribbean cuisine, he's serving dishes where he is "getting playful again," and "drawing from Jamaican bakeries…from Chinese takeout spots."

Here at Tatiana, Onwuachi is allowed to do what he does best: mix cultures and swap histories to create a new culinary vision painstakingly made from the legacy of the past. In this way, he represents the heart of New York City as a melting pot of cultural exchanges, histories, and shared stories. Putting it in his own words, his food is "very indicative of New York" and how "New York cuisine is not something you could put a finger on…there's so much vibrancy —especially when you reach the boroughs."
Celebrating Black History
All Year Long
We're bringing to life the stories of great Black chefs this month and throughout the year because the culinary impact Black chefs have isn't reserved for February. Join us year-round as we celebrate chefs like Gregory Gourdet (Kann), Eric Mckree (Filé Gumbo Bar), Keem Hughely (Bronze), Matt Horn (Horn Barbecue), and Jahmond Quander (1799 Prime Steak and Seafood) for their innovation, cultural impact, and incredible talent.