Chef Kwame Williams of Vital - Biography

Montclair, NJ

September 2017

Jamaican-American Kwame Williams grew up in South Orange, New Jersey, a hop, skip, and jump to Manhattan, where he graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education. Williams began his career at the venerable Jersey institutions Ryland Inn, The Bernards Inn, and Highlawn Pavilion before making way back across the Hudson for work at Alexander Small’s Minton’s in Harlem.  

In 2014, Williams and his two sisters launched Vital in Montclair, New Jersey, a Jamaican restaurant that boasts healthful, vibrant food. The New York Times touted Vital as having “the most alluring Caribbean food,” and writing of Williams, “… he cares deeply about health and sustainable agriculture, and still manages to create rich, novel dishes.” In 2016, Williams and his sisters opened their second concept, Freetown CafĂ©, to nourish the often-overlooked Newark community.  

Williams volunteers for Edible Schoolyard, and was one of 15 chefs chosen to participate in the James Beard Foundation’s Chefs Boot Camp.