Jul 23, 2020

Notes From A Young Black Chef: A Memoir by Kwame Onwuachi

The rise and fall of Kwame Onwuachi’s DC restaurant (Shaw Bijou) was a pretty compelling / high profile story: underestimated “young Black chef” opens one of the most expensive tasting restaurants in DC, and after just a few months in business, the restaurant closes. But not for the reasons you might think…⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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Funny, then, that 85% of the book is NOT about Shaw Bijou (nor is it a Top Chef tell all). 🤔⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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Kwame’s is a life defined by places, tastes, and smells (and watching his mom work as a solorpeneur caterer for most of HER life). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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This is a story that addresses casual & overt racism in the service industry, and how African food is not seen as “cultured” in the pretentious-af fine dining world. 🙄 It’s about ancestors and believing in yourself… and what it means to inhabit a mean, cutthroat culture, work your ass off, and then stand up and say, “hey, maybe the culture doesn’t have to be like this… ?”⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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Kwame is a great narrator, and I looooved hearing about him BS’ing his way into & out of trouble (and also his first fine dining job lol). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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But what I love most is that he’s committed to creating a different kind of kitchen culture. One that’s diverse & inclusive, free from the toxic masculinity and abuse that characterizes most kitchens. WHAT A RELIEF DUDE. It’s about freaking time.⠀⠀

Samantha Pollack

About Sam

Samantha Pollack writes creative copy (mostly emails) for feminist companies and/or thought leaders who are working to build a fairer, more connected culture. She’s also the founder of The Highly Sensitive Entrepreneur, a 6-week course that helps HSP business owners create healthier, more sustainable systems in their work. 

She publishes frequent essays on feminism, privilege, pop culture, entrepreneurship, the creative process, and more on her website, cultofpersonality.co. She currently lives in Asheville, NC, and while she can *technically* work from anywhere, she prefers her adventures laptop-free.

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