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Notes From A Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi and Joshua David Stein; Narrated Kwame Onwuachi
Random House Audio
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
Kwame Onwuachi’s memoir of food, cooking, and restaurants is an ode to persistence, savvy, and hard work. Onwuachi might be most familiar to Top Chef fans from his time as a contestant or to gastronomes for his boldly envisioned restaurant, Shaw Bijou. Still, in his mid-twenties, much of the book chronicles his complicated childhood. Experiences with an abusive father had him steered in an unfulfilling direction until he returned to cooking giving him outlets for both his creative and business savvy. He profiles his time going to the Culinary Institute of America, apprenticing at some of the world’s most renowned restaurants, starting his own catering business as a way to pay for school, the racism he faced in some of the kitchens as often the only person of color, and his persistence to create something new and unique telling his story through food.
Onwuachi’s narration brings a personal element to this story. Teens will enjoy listening to the stories of his youth and his journey into the food world. Not everything was a success for Onwuachi, and his honesty adds authenticity to his memoir that teens will appreciate. Fans of Top Chef will recognize him and appreciate the inside stories of his experience on the show.
This is a welcome addition to chef memoirs and will stand nicely against the now classic Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain, as well as Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson and Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang. It will also deliciously pair well with Elizabeth Acevedo’s new foodie title With the Fire on High. Onwuachi talks about time in his youth spent watching Iron Chef and with his time spent on Top Chef teens that love these shows as well as shows liked Chopped and The Great British Baking Show will find a lot to chew on here.