Jennifer Chase—The New York Times/Redux

Kwame Onwuachi

Every chef is taught how to manage a team and learns technique, like how to break down a dish and put it into production. These are the bare bones of being a good chef.

But having a point of view that is different from everyone else’s and taking that point of view and unapologetically making it an integral piece of your restaurant and your food—to me, that’s what sets chefs apart. And Kwame Onwuachi has done that. He learned to be truthful with his food at a very young age, at a pivotal point in his career. That’s what sets him and his Washington, D.C., restaurant, Kith and Kin, apart: his decision to say, This is the food I should do. This is the message I want to put out there in the world.

When a chef does that, it’s not pretty food on a plate anymore. It’s about telling a bigger story. The restaurant world is changing, and it’s becoming more inclusive. We’re starting to hear from different voices, and because of his honesty and his willingness to hold up a mirror to our industry, Kwame is one of the leading figures in that movement.

Colicchio is the head judge on Top Chef

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