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5 Black Chefs in America You Need to Know About

Let’s be honest: food is the best thing in the world! I can’t imagine what life would be like without such succulent dishes like shrimp and grits, fried chicken and waffles, and my personal favorite: macaroni and cheese.

There are so many chefs in America making new things and creating new food trends, but who are they? Well don’t worry, I can introduce you to five, Black chefs whose names you need to know! 

Nyesha Arrington

Her food is heavily influenced by her multiracial family, such as her Korean grandmother and grandfather of black and Cherokee descent. Nyesha grew up in Los Angeles, with its unique "terroir" that blends Californian, Mexican, Chinese, Persian, and many other cuisines. One of her signature dishes is an olive oil-poached halibut with pickled oyster mushrooms and Sungold cherry tomatoes. Now doesn’t that sound delicious?

Preston Clark

Influenced by his father's talent and tenacity: Patrick Clark (Preston’s father) was the first black chef to win a James Beard award. Preston cooks many different cuisines at various restaurants, from Aquavit to Jean-Georges to Sammy Hagar's steakhouse. His restaurant, Lure Fishbar, is located in New York. 

Makini Howell

Makini was raised in a vegan family that has been in the food business since the 1970s. She went on tour for a year with Stevie Wonder as his personal chef, and she’s slowly building a six-part vegan food empire.
You can find her at the Plum Bistro and Sugar Plum in Seattle, Washington. One of her dishes is seared spiced tofu with fried avocado, greens, chile powder, and black bean purée.

Nina Compton

Nina grew up in St. Lucia, cooking in kitchens around the Caribbean. She was shaped by working in the very white, masculine, and French kitchen at Daniel in Manhattan. Nina also competed on “Top Chef” in 2013. You can find her at the Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro in New Orleans. Her signature dish is a Jamaican-style snapper escovitch with carrot beurre blanc. Now I don’t know half of those words, but I’d still order it!

Kwame Onwuachi

Growing up in the Bronx, Kwame sold candy bars on the subway to raise cash to start his first food business. Attending culinary school took him to Mumbai, Hong Kong, and the kitchen of Per Se. You can find Kwame at the Kith and Kin in Washington State. One of his signature dishes is a whole crispy snapper with brown stew sauce!

Historically, Black cooks have witnessed their foods and techniques co-opted, getting little credit for their influence on America’s culinary traditions, but times have changed. The world needs to know that food is so diverse but so are the people who make it!

Camille Birdsong is a senior Broadcast Journalism major & Leadership Studies minor from Hampton, Virginia. She has interned for both the TODAY Show and Weekend TODAY Show. Camille aspires to be a news producer after graduating. She is a member of the Gamma Theta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and is a line producer and director for her school's newscast. She is a major Marvel fan, a Starbucks connoisseur, and an adult Girl Scout (no she can't get you any cookies)!
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