Chef Kwame Onwuachi of Kith/Kin - Biography

Washington, D.C.

October 2019

Young Kwame Onwuachi cooked in his mother’s catering kitchen in the Bronx, peeling shrimp and stirring roux for gumbo. When he was 12, his mother sent him to live with his grandfather for two years in Nigeria. Living without electricity and modern conveniences, Onwuachi learned to be creative and appreciate the effort that goes into preparing a meal, including butchering an animal without being wasteful. After graduating high school, he moved to Louisiana, where he waited tables and washed dishes until he could try his hand in the kitchen. At 20 he returned to New York and sold candy on the subway to help fund his catering business. He then enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America and, soon after, dove into the world of fine dining at Eleven Madison Park and Per Se.

In 2016, after competing on “Top Chef,” Onwuachi opened modern American fine dining The Shaw Bijou in Washington, D.C. By 2017, he’d moved on to open Kith/Kin in the InterContinental Hotel. The atmosphere is fine dining and the food is Afro-Caribbean, exploring the influences of his mother’s Creole and Jamaican roots and his grandfather’s Nigerian heritage. Onwuachi has been named to “30 under 30” lists by both Zagat and Forbes, and in 2018 he won a StarChefs Rising Star award. At the 2019 James Beard Awards, Onwuachi took home the medal for “Rising Star Chef of the Year.” His recently released memoir, Notes from a Young Black Chef, is already slated to hit the silver screen.