Kwame Onwuachi is one of the most celebrated young chefs working today with his acclaimed Afro-Caribbean restaurant Kith and Kin in the InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C.’s Wharf development. Last year, he won the James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year. Had things worked out differently, however, he may have instead become a famous rapper.
Growing up in New York, Onwuachi had a turbulent childhood, spending a couple of years with relatives in Nigeria for misbehaving in school and later, upon returning to the Bronx, joining a gang. For a period, he also worked in restaurants to support his music career. In his early 20s, Onwuachi’s passion for cooking won out. He sold candy bars to fund his first catering business, going on to graduate from the Culinary Institute of America and working at world-class establishments Eleven Madison Park and Per Se.
In 2015, he opened his first D.C. restaurant, Shaw Bijou (now shuttered), and currently helms Kith and Kin, which draws inspiration from his family’s roots. His signature dishes include braised oxtails, jollof rice and goat roti.