Notes from a Young Black Chef

Notes from a Young Black Chef

A groundbreaking memoir about the intersection of race, fame, and food, from the Top Chef star and Forbes and Zagat 30 Under 30 honoreeBy the time he was twenty-seven, Kwame Onwuachi had competed on Top Chef, cooked at the White House, and opened and closed one of the most talked about restaurants in America. In this inspiring memoir, he shares the remarkable story of his...

DownloadRead Online
Title:Notes from a Young Black Chef
Author:Kwame Onwuachi
Rating:

Notes from a Young Black Chef Reviews

  • LeeTravelGoddess

    Am I biased?? MAYBE, but so what!!! We don’t get many black chef memoirs and I gobbled this up like I was a hungry bear! The story was wonderful, tantalizing, a filling course of the best foods and I tell you I still want more. It’s funny how I was reading two very different stories by two very different men named Kwame— 💚.

    This particular memoir is not your Normal “rags to riches” but rather a gathering of life’s lessons to become someone and something that was kind of unfathomable— a freakin c

    Am I biased?? MAYBE, but so what!!! We don’t get many black chef memoirs and I gobbled this up like I was a hungry bear! The story was wonderful, tantalizing, a filling course of the best foods and I tell you I still want more. It’s funny how I was reading two very different stories by two very different men named Kwame— 💚.

    This particular memoir is not your Normal “rags to riches” but rather a gathering of life’s lessons to become someone and something that was kind of unfathomable— a freakin chef! And it didn’t take long for him to find his niche. I am compelled to travel to DC to go to his restaurant, see the African American Museum and come back to my Coast all in a weekend.

    I was literally on the edge of my seat thinking this can’t be how the story plays out and thankfully it did not, I am even more convinced that our journeys are ours and ours alone... and what is meant for you will be there waiting for you when YOU are ready. Overall a wonderful book and shout out to his moms— some moms really don’t get enough credit 💚💚💚!!! TAKE THE JOURNEY WITH KWAME, I’m glad I did!

  • Audrey

    This was an excellent food memoir. I admired Kwame when he was on Top Chef and thought his food looked and sounded amazing. I didn’t realize that his first restaurant closed soon after Top Chef aired. Kwame brings up a lot of relevant issues with race in the restaurant industry. While I think mistakes were made in the opening of his restaurant (pricing of the menu as well as not vetted partners), he raises valid points as to what people expect from chefs who are not white and how easy it is to b

    This was an excellent food memoir. I admired Kwame when he was on Top Chef and thought his food looked and sounded amazing. I didn’t realize that his first restaurant closed soon after Top Chef aired. Kwame brings up a lot of relevant issues with race in the restaurant industry. While I think mistakes were made in the opening of his restaurant (pricing of the menu as well as not vetted partners), he raises valid points as to what people expect from chefs who are not white and how easy it is to be pigeon holed into their background. Lastly, I loved that he talked about his love of Harry Potter mixed in with all his experiences. I hope to try his restaurant next time I’m in DC and wish him the most happiness and success.

    I received this arc from the publisher but all opinions are my own.

  • Alysa H.

    I enjoyed this book very much. Kwame Onwuachi has a powerful and timely story to tell, and I was riveted by his experiences. In a way, all you need to know before you decide whether to read this book is right there in the title: he's young, he's black, and he's a chef.

    Young: Onwuachi has had a busier life than some people twice his age, but I admit to sometimes rolling my eyes when he expresses dismay at his own youthful exploits -- "Oh, I was so young and naive then!" It's like, dude, it was on

    I enjoyed this book very much. Kwame Onwuachi has a powerful and timely story to tell, and I was riveted by his experiences. In a way, all you need to know before you decide whether to read this book is right there in the title: he's young, he's black, and he's a chef.

    Young: Onwuachi has had a busier life than some people twice his age, but I admit to sometimes rolling my eyes when he expresses dismay at his own youthful exploits -- "Oh, I was so young and naive then!" It's like, dude, it was only 2 years ago and you are still not even 30.

    Black: Onwuachi's identity as a black man, and specifically as a black man from NYC with family from the American south (mother's side) and from Nigeria (father's side), is central, and important, and very interesting to read about.

    Chef: This book is an entry in a long line of chef memoirs that will satisfy lovers of the genre. Onwuachi's culinary career trajectory, and how it has intersected with his more personal journeys, is the stuff of food world legend.

    And the fourth word in the title? Notes. While none of the chapters read like fuzzy sketches, I would say that each one strikes a separate thematic note. The book goes more or less in chronological order, but not entirely. Some chapters do repeat bits of information and parts of anecdotes already covered in other chapters.

    One more editorial criticism is that there are a few factual errors in the book that kicked me right out and also made me wonder about the truthfulness of other, less provable things. For instance, in NYC, the Union Square Barnes & Noble is NOT on 14th Street, it's on 17th Street. If Onwuachi (or Joshua David Stein, or the editors) didn't check that, what else did they not check?

    Eh, I do get a sense that this is not the sort of book that lets hard facts get in the way of a good, emotionally honest story. That's not necessarily a bad thing; in fact it's true about many memoirs. Just... buyer beware :)

    ** I received an ARC of this book via Penguin's First to Read program **

  • Tina

    I've really been on a memoir kick this year- and #6 did not disappoint.

    NOTES FROM A YOUNG BLACK CHEF is Kwame Onwuachi's story about coming up in New York and coming into his career as a chef. He finished 6 on Top Chef and just closed his dream restaurant- all before the age of 30.

    He talks a lot about his upbringing and what it's like to be Black in America. There's a dash of behind the scenes at Top Chef thrown in, but what I loved the most was his fearlessness. He's not at all afraid to name n

    I've really been on a memoir kick this year- and #6 did not disappoint.

    NOTES FROM A YOUNG BLACK CHEF is Kwame Onwuachi's story about coming up in New York and coming into his career as a chef. He finished 6 on Top Chef and just closed his dream restaurant- all before the age of 30.

    He talks a lot about his upbringing and what it's like to be Black in America. There's a dash of behind the scenes at Top Chef thrown in, but what I loved the most was his fearlessness. He's not at all afraid to name names and to call out the racism that exists in the industry. Ego? Sure. But who's going to believe in you if you don't believe in yourself? Fans of Born a Crime will like this one. 4.5🌟 #tbrread2019

    And don't miss the dedication in the back 😩💔

  • Jaime

    Thanks AAKnopf for sharing NOTES FROM A YOUNG BLACK CHEF with me. memoirs have a special place in my book loving heart. This one is no different. It is Kwame's coming of age story, navigating life as a young black male in a predominantly white (and unwelcoming) industry, and his perseverance on never giving up on his dreams. It was well written, engaging and I loved the recipes at the end of each chapter.

  • PorshaJo

    Rating 4.5

    I had no idea who Kwame Onwuachi is and had no knowledge of this book. While browsing my library for new audio books I came across this one. To be honest, I grabbed it just based on the title. It had the word 'chef' in it. I figured I could hear about the lifestyle of a chef and more importantly food. I'm a sucker for any foodie book. So I grabbed it and jumped in with no expectations.

    This one tells the life story of twenty-seven year old Kwame Onwuachi. I know, I know...I thought the

    Rating 4.5

    I had no idea who Kwame Onwuachi is and had no knowledge of this book. While browsing my library for new audio books I came across this one. To be honest, I grabbed it just based on the title. It had the word 'chef' in it. I figured I could hear about the lifestyle of a chef and more importantly food. I'm a sucker for any foodie book. So I grabbed it and jumped in with no expectations.

    This one tells the life story of twenty-seven year old Kwame Onwuachi. I know, I know...I thought the same thing. 27 and writing his memoir, what can he possibly talk about??? But the author begins to tell the story of his life from a very young child to where he is right now, opening a fine-dining restaurant in DC. One of the most talked about, and most expensive restaurants, under high profile circumstances, realizing his dream, to the ultimate closure of that restaurant...3 months after opening. He details about major events in his life that shaped him, the food in his life and how that played a part of where he is today. But more important, his drive and determination. Yeah, not all his choices were great, but whose are. I loved the story of his upbringing, the stories of his life - being sent to Nigeria to live to 'learn respect' but learning so much about food and his heritage, selling candy bars in the NYC subway to make money for his startup business, his time at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) and working in various kitchens either across NYC or in the South. And man, he can talk about food too.

    Obviously I really enjoyed this one. It's funny as twice I shut it off in the beginning saying 'nope, don't like it'. But I knew I had to give it a bit of time. The author narrates the audio himself. At first, I thought he talked too fast but I grew to like the voice and narration. Does he appear arrogant? I really didn't think so. He's proud of where he came from, where he's at, and he's confident. I found this one fascinating. I couldn't care about his time on Top Chef (I don't watch that show, too much fake drama and not enough food.) It's such a small part of this story. My only issue, hence only 4.5, I could have done without political jabs, and I think it ended a bit too abruptly. I wanted to hear more. Overall, so glad I 'read' this one. A must for anyone into food, into hearing about what it's like to work as a chef, or if you just want to hear a great story.

  • Diane S ☔

    From Louisiana to the Bronx, from Nigeria and to the Culinary Institute, landing in Washington D. C. this young man has learned to cook his own story, his own culture. A childhood filled with abuse from his father, support and love from his mother, to his grandfather in Nigeria, who taught him that his ancestors would always be part of him. Selling drugs in college, then cooking for some of the best restaurants to competing Top Chef, he has pulled himself together and fought for a life of which

    From Louisiana to the Bronx, from Nigeria and to the Culinary Institute, landing in Washington D. C. this young man has learned to cook his own story, his own culture. A childhood filled with abuse from his father, support and love from his mother, to his grandfather in Nigeria, who taught him that his ancestors would always be part of him. Selling drugs in college, then cooking for some of the best restaurants to competing Top Chef, he has pulled himself together and fought for a life of which he could be proud. As I was reading this I was thinking to myself, How many different lives he has lived." He has fought for recognition, struggled to change the opinions of those who thought a

    Black Chef shouldn't be in fine dining.

    I enjoy cooking, and this book contains reckless, or a pdf file for those like myself, who listened. The food mentioned here was such a variety, some down home easier meals to recipes and ingredients of which I had never heard. I fell into his story, sympathized with him during his struggles, felt sad for the young boy who was abused. His first foray into running his own restaurant was not successful due to many circumstances out of his control but I hope his future endeavors will be more successful.

    He reads his own story and it was impactful to hear his own story in his own voice. Some readers may find his words, the anger behind them at times, arrogant or agressive. I though understood and think he needed and still needs these qualities to survive and thrive.

  • Jameil

    3.5 stars. The first half of the book is really strong. Kwame has honed telling his origin story and knows how to sell his success. He also names names in a very juicy way. I would love to hear how they feel about their portrayals in this book. I can also see plenty of people wondering about his mentions of race throughout. He attributes this to the nebulousness of racism that’s not attached to the n-word. It’s can be hard to pin down for outsiders when it’s not attached to a hood.

    The second ha

    3.5 stars. The first half of the book is really strong. Kwame has honed telling his origin story and knows how to sell his success. He also names names in a very juicy way. I would love to hear how they feel about their portrayals in this book. I can also see plenty of people wondering about his mentions of race throughout. He attributes this to the nebulousness of racism that’s not attached to the n-word. It’s can be hard to pin down for outsiders when it’s not attached to a hood.

    The second half suffers from the problems of so many memoirs written too close to painful events: a myopic point of view. There’s very much a feeling of “Yes, I can admit some fault, but it was mostly their fault and they are generally sucky people and okay maybe I’m wallowing but it’s just so unfair to me and the people I like!”

    I don’t doubt the closing of any enterprise that you’ve invested this much of yourself is devastating. I just think this book would be better served with some distance from the pain. Mentions of a girlfriend (fiancée?) were also placed in confusing spots and not fleshed out leaving you to wonder the point of mentioning her at all. I guess so you still have one when she reads your book. 😂

    The few recipes included are a mix of the likely unattainable for people who don’t live in a city with huge west African population or frequent trips to the motherland ($15 egusi seeds on Amazon, anyone??) and some I wanted to make immediately like the gumbo and and chicken curry.

  • Brina

    Cooking has always been a passion of mine, so when my co-moderator at the nonfiction book club mentioned that she wanted to read a new memoir by an up and coming top chef, I decided to join her. Notes From a Young Black Chef came at a good time for me as this year celebrity memoirs have become my go-to genre in between denser reads. Reading this story that is dubbed as rags-to-riches but is a really one of a person of color breaking through a glass ceiling in his field, one can not help but be c

    Cooking has always been a passion of mine, so when my co-moderator at the nonfiction book club mentioned that she wanted to read a new memoir by an up and coming top chef, I decided to join her. Notes From a Young Black Chef came at a good time for me as this year celebrity memoirs have become my go-to genre in between denser reads. Reading this story that is dubbed as rags-to-riches but is a really one of a person of color breaking through a glass ceiling in his field, one can not help but be captivated by Kwame Onwuachi’s life.

    Kwame Onwuachi was born in November 1989 in the Bronx, New York to parents Patrick and Jewel. What was supposed to be two souls passing in the night became a forced marriage of two distinct people and cultures. Jewel hailed from Louisiana by way of Texas and always enjoyed cooking. Her food held the distinct flavors of creole, Cajun, Deep South, and a melding of spices. Learning from her mother Cassie and stepfather Winston, Jewel Robinson thrived in the kitchen and became an executive caterer. Although low on money in between jobs, her cooking was a labor of love and she passed this on to her children Tatiana and Kwame, who both helped her with catering jobs from early ages. Kwame eventually became a top chef, yet Tatiana prepares award winning cheese cake, always a winner in my book. It is through women that Kwame learned to put his soul into his food preparation, and this has remained true through his short life.

    Although Kwame’s parents divorced when he was young and his father was abusive, he learned about his ancestry through his father’s Nigerian roots. When his mother believed that life on the New York streets was becoming to tough for Kwame, she sent him to live with his grandparents in Ibusa, Nigeria. It is there that Kwame learned about efusi stew and the origins of his ancestry. His grandfather is a scholar of the Pan-African movement who obtained a PhD from American universities but chose to return to his roots. Running a compound in a rural community, he showed Kwame among other things how to sacrifice a chicken to the ancestors and to show them respect. It is this lesson that he brought more than anything else upon his return to the United States.

    After a series of bad breaks, Jewel moved her catering business to New Orleans and Kwame decided to follow in her footsteps. People of color comprise a sliver of prominent chefs in the United States and a series of chance meetings landed Kwame catering jobs and a slot in the Culinary Institute Of America. I thought I cooked gourmet style until I read the descriptions of the school and the high end kitchens where Kwame worked. Each meal is a production and a work of art requiring a team of 10-20 dedicated chefs. Despite finding few mentors who look like him in top kitchens, Kwame has landed positions in the upper echelons of New York restaurants. There, he was met with the same racial slurs and silent abuses that he faced while working at a barbecue joint in Louisiana. Sadly, other than distinctly ethnic restaurants, few chefs of color are in the position to mentor up and coming cooks like Kwame and his ideas appear to be cutting edge. He, to his credit, has not let the racist remarks push out of the industry, and at the time of publication, has opened five high end restaurants and been named to a who’s who of Americans under age 30.

    Notes From a Young Black Chef are full of anecdotes of perseverance and recipes. I would have preferred more in depth writing and found out what Kwame is doing now rather than reading about his current profession on the back jacket cover. Then again, not every book can be a literary masterpiece. I did enjoy reading about the workings of Culinary Institute and of high end restaurants. People are always telling me to open a restaurant and I can use this as proof that is a lot of work. Yet, Kwame has prevailed and finding his own space among top chefs. It will be intriguing to see where he is in ten years and if he has carved a space among the best of the best American chefs.

    3.5 stars

  • Yaaresse

    With the exception of Malala Yousafzai, who has lived more in 21 years than many people will live in a lifetime and has a Nobel Prize to prove it, I'm not sure anyone under 30 really has enough self-knowledge of life experience to write a memoir. (I realize the same could be said of many people over 30 who have written memoirs, too.)

    Onwuachi certainly knows how to market himself. He admits in the book that he puts on different personas for different audiences, so the reader can only ask "Which

    With the exception of Malala Yousafzai, who has lived more in 21 years than many people will live in a lifetime and has a Nobel Prize to prove it, I'm not sure anyone under 30 really has enough self-knowledge of life experience to write a memoir. (I realize the same could be said of many people over 30 who have written memoirs, too.)

    Onwuachi certainly knows how to market himself. He admits in the book that he puts on different personas for different audiences, so the reader can only ask "Which one are we getting here?" I suspect we're getting whichever one he thinks will generate the most buzz and biggest payoff. (Question: why would someone who was a "gifted" student and wrote essays skillfully enough to win culinary grants need a co-author to tell his own story anyway?)

    Onwuachi seems far more invested in being a "brand" and being flashy than in anything else. For his wins, he is quick to take credit. For his stumbles, he is even quicker to find excuses. He seems fixated on luxury and appearances. He (or his co-author -- it's hard to tell who is driving this bus) is quick to tell us about his designer shoes or how someone allegedly was impressed with his fine wool suit. He mentions going to "the best" restaurants, by which he means the most expensive, but we get zero details on the meals he ate. Were any memorable for him beyond the bragging rights of eating at a "known" and expensive place? He goes on and on about how, when planning for his first restaurant, he had to have luxurious and custom-made doors, plates, chairs, etc. He "agonized for months" about the lighting fixtures. Funny thing though: he never says much about food except a few bland lines that felt phoned in and a few quotes from other people praising his cooking -- which seem to be thrown in to convince us that

    think he's brilliant rather than to tell us anything about the food. Onwauchi is keen to emphasize the rarity or cost of an ingredient, but he never says much about its smell, taste, texture, history, etc. It's all about the image, never about the flavor or the craft. He's far more about the "celebrity" than the "chef."

    He presents as shallow and self-absorbed, quick to take offense and quick to claim entitlement. He may be talented, and he may be smart; however, he's not very likable: he comes off as insincere and drunk off his own bathwater.

    I think the part where he completely lost me is that he mentions (many times) how his mother (and later his half-sister) continually struggled to make ends meet, and yet while he fills his closet with Prada and Armani clothes bought when he made thousands a week dealing drugs, not once does he mention helping either of them with some cold, hard cash. If he ever did, you know he would have written in into the book because that would make him look good, and he's all into looking good. But then, broke because he blew all his "hard earned" cash on designer clothes and partying, he turned around and convinced his mother to drain her meager savings account to subsidize his culinary school tuition. I guess it was her money and her decision, but that is some serious entitlement. When his father goaded him by saying "Why don't you just go back to selling drugs?" Onwuachi suddenly developed scruples and got offended? Yeah, it was hardly great parental advice, but I can't help but wonder if what his father really meant was, "Oh, OK, so when you were flush, you screwed around and wasted your resources, and now you come around asking for handouts because suddenly something is important to you?" His dad sounds like a major jerk -- although we're only getting one side of the story -- but you can't expect to sever a relationship, even with good reason, and still make a claim on the other person's wallet.

    When Onwuachi finally gets around to talking about being a chef, he talks about creating an autobiography through menu...at the ripe old age of 26. Then he complains that people call him pretentious. Well...yeah. That's pretentious. To have an autobiography that means anything to other people, you have to have experienced something outside yourself.

    Maybe, if he's still around in a decade or two, he'll have something to say that is worth reading. Right now, he's just not nearly as interesting or unique as he thinks he is.

Best Books Online is in no way intended to support illegal activity. Use it at your risk. We uses Search API to find books/manuals but doesn´t host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners. Please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them


©2019 Best Books Online - All rights reserved.