Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi: Book Review

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Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi Book Cover
Title: Notes from a Young Black Chef (Adapted for Young Adults)
Content Warning: Drug Use

My Synopsis:

Kwame Onwuachi grew up in the Bronx with his mom and sister, trying his best to avoid his estranged and abusive father. When Kwame started getting too difficult for his mom to handle, she sent him to live with his grandparents in Nigeria for two years. But when he returned to the States, the easy money he could make on the streets tempted him a little too loudly. It was his love for food and cooking that helped him turn his life around.

My Review:

I’m not a foodie so I’d never heard of Kwame Onwuachi before I picked up this memoir. His passion for cooking and feeding hungry people shines through these pages. When he decides to walk away from his life on the streets, he has to work impossibly hard to put himself through culinary school but he does it. His motto seems to be “Go big or go home” and that mostly works for him. If you don’t aim high, you won’t go high, right?

I love the way that he incorporates elements of his life in his food. His mom’s Creole cuisine, his dad’s Nigerian cooking, and a big dose of his own talent and creativity. But he’s serving these dishes in his own fine dining restaurants and breaking down barriers.

I did find it odd that the book synopsis mentions that Kwame has opened five restaurants but his memoir ends just after he opens his first. I would have liked to read more about his big successes.

If you’re interested in reading about a young chef who is finding ways to make both kitchens and fine cuisine more inclusive, pick this up.

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  1. That is an interesting choice to stop where they did. I guess maybe the decision was to focus on the “young” part which was how he got his first restaurant success? Maybe he’ll write another memoir later where the focus is less on how he got here and more on what he did once he arrived.

    1. I could see that but –SPOILER–

      that’s not really what happened. It kind of ends on a down note. He’s learned some lessons but I wouldn’t say that he’s arrived at the end of the book. It’s just an odd place to stop.

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