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It was the morning after the election of the first American black president, and Kuam Onvoachi was scandalous. He was having fun all night. He was drugged to survive after he left college. He, he said, was lost.
But when he saw President Obama, he pressed something. "I thought I could do something. And I immediately washed away everything that I have in the toilet, and how I need to find myself," reminds Onwuachi. curry "I did not know what I wanted to cook, but it was, here is what I know," he says. "Here is something that returns these pleasant memories. And here's something that pushes me. And I want to explore it a bit more." and Keane, the famous African-Caribbean restaurant in Washington, and this year's nominee for the James Beard prestigious prize
is right and begins, as he says in a new memoir Notes from a young black chef In the end, on top of the chef will work will work in the best restaurants in America, opening the first place in the DC – and its quick and painful closure. But this road started in a one-room apartment in the Bronx, where he grew up with his mother and sister.
"My mother was an accountant, and she wanted to know how to spend time with us while still taking care of herself," says Onwuachi. "So, she founded a catering company from home, and I and my sister became her first two employees."
Times were difficult. "There have been many times there, when we had no lights," he says, "and my mother played a game called Lights Out, where we all slept in the living room together and put candles everywhere. Instead of exposing me to harsh realities, what happened. "
The history of life onwuachi is written in his recipes.The family of his mother is from Louisiana and Trinidad, Creole and Caribbean flavors fill it with cooking.From his father has roots in Jamaica and Nigeria, where Onvoaci spent two years as an animation
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"I definitely deviated on the wrong path as a child growing up in the Southern Bronx," he says. Therefore, his mother sent him to live with his father's relatives in Nigeria. "I spent several years there, learning about my culture, the traditions of my ancestors, whom I did not know. And then, in essence, I also learned a lot about cooking."
In Nigeria, he says, "You wanted 20 wings, you had to raise 10 chickens, you saw where the food came from.
He took all this experience into the high temples of American cuisine – first, on Per, and then to the Eleven Madison Park, like New York. He says he wanted to learn the best.
"It was and remains an amazing restaurant," he says about the highly rated "Per Se." "The food they produce, the level of attention to detail, which is included in every aspect – is it the receipt of a product in order to say that it is produced, through the manufacturing process, cookies Rhee and then on a plate. This is a symphony. "
But the memoirs of Onouchi are not a simple story about triumph in the face of poverty and struggle, it is also a meditation on what is happening on this perfect façade – how to be a black man in this sparse world, he tells the story of the chief chief alert -The cook for a word that has a dual meaning as a racist disgrace that is used in the menu. He was told not to worry about it because "black people do not eat here"
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"These jokes happen more than you think," says Onwuachi. "We are reviewing [for advancement] more than you think. And this is not direct racism … it's an undisguised racism that harms you."
So, Onwaki left his own restaurant. He was only 26 years old, and people continued to tell him that he had not paid his fees. When his first company, DK, Bowling Show, closed for three months in a widely publicized failure, people seemed almost joyful.
"It made me angry at that time," says Onwuachi. "People tell you that you have not paid a single fee – what do you say? I was given the opportunity. Who is crazy going to say:" Thank you for this proposal for a million dollars, but I need to go and pay my contribution a little more, and then I will call you if you are still interested? "
These days, Onwuachi earns enthusiastic reviews about his new restaurant, Kith and Kin, and he wants people to think about why critics and clients consider only certain cuisines – Italian, French, Japanese – worthy of the name of gourmet food.