Standing on the Shoulders: What It Means to Be a Black Chef in America with Kwame Onwuachi, Therese Nelson & Adrienne Cheatham POSTPONED
Where: Museum of Food and Drink
62 Bayard St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn
718-387-2845 Price: $30
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Although much of the culinary world was founded on the recipes of enslaved Africans, it’s only recently that Black chefs have started to be recognized for their countless contributions to American cuisine.
While we remember women such as Edna Lewis, Leah Chase, and Vertamae Grosvenor for being pioneers of American cuisine, it was only this past September that the first Black woman, Mariya Russell, was awarded a Michelin star. And though we know that it was James Hemings, the enslaved chef of Thomas Jefferson, who introduced French fries and macaroni & cheese to the United States, it wasn’t until 1994 that the first Black chef, Patrick Clark, received a James Beard Award.
However, times have begun to change. As Colleen Vincent recently wrote on the James Beard Foundation Blog, “chefs Mashama Bailey (The Grey), Rodney Scott (Rodney Scott’s BBQ), Dolester Miles (Highlands Bar & Grill), and Edouardo Jordan (Salare and June Baby) all won James Beard Awards. Their critical and commercial successes are rooted in the legacies of chefs, historians, innovators, and provocateurs across the centuries.”
So, what does it mean to be a Black chef in America today and how has that perspective and experience changed over the years for those chefs who have achieved success? Join us at MOFAD on March 18th to hear from chef and culinary historian Therese Nelson, James Beard Award-winning chef Kwame Onwuachi, and Top Chef star chef Adrienne Cheatham. They’ll be joined by Scott Alves Barton, PhD. with opening remarks delivered by Alan Batt, photographer of the new book Toques in Black: A Celebration of Black Chefs.
The talk will be followed by a reception with a tasting and beverages. The new cookbook, Toques in Black: A Celebration of Black Chefs will be available for purchase.
Scott Alves Barton teaches as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at NYU, Montclair State University and Queens College. Scott holds a Ph.D. in Food Studies from NYU. He had a 25-year career as an executive chef, restaurant and product development consultant, and culinary educator. Ebony Magazine had selected Scott as one of the top 25 African American/African Diaspora Chefs. Scott studied cooking at the New York Restaurant School, Peter Kump’s Cooking School, several “stages” in France, as well as at Madeleine Kamman/Beringer Vineyard’s School for American Chefs.
Scott teaches a variety of Food Studies courses as well as courses in Anthropology and Media; often utilizing Digital Humanities as a pedagogy and a tool for dissemination. His research, films and publications focus on the intersection of secular and sacred cuisine as a marker of identity politics, feminine agency, cultural heritage, political resistance, and self-determination in Northeastern Brazil.
Kwame Onwuachi is the James Beard Award-winning executive chef at Kith/Kin, Esquire Magazine’s Chef of the Year, and author of Notes from a Young Black Chef, published by Alfred A. Knopf. He was born on Long Island and raised in New York City, Nigeria, and Louisiana. Onwuachi was first exposed to cooking by his mother, in the family’s modest Bronx apartment, and he took that spark of passion and turned it into a career. From toiling in the bowels of oil cleanup ships to working at some of the best restaurants in the world, he has seen and lived his fair share of diversity. Onwuachi trained at the Culinary Institute of America and has opened five restaurants before turning thirty. A former Top Chef contestant, he has been named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs, Esquire Magazine’s Chef of the Year, and a 30 Under 30 honoree by both Zagat and Forbes.
Chef Adrienne Cheatham grew up in the kitchens and dining rooms of the restaurants her mother managed in Chicago, Illinois.
Adrienne spent eight years at the three-Michelin star restaurant, Le Bernardin where she started as a commis and eventually became Executive Sous Chef.
Adrienne went on to work with Marcus Samuelsson as the Chef de Cuisine of the Marcus Samuelsson Group, opening Streetbird, where she received a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide, and Marcus’ Bermuda before being promoted to Executive Chef at Red Rooster.
Adrienne competed on season 15 of Top Chef, making it to the finale and finishing second out of 16 cheftestants. She has been featured as a speaker at Cherry Bombe Magazine’s annual Jubilee festival and was the subject of a New York Times documentary series titled “Tastemakers.” She is also the founder of the SundayBest pop up series, a sold-out dinner series held in various locations across the city and country. Adrienne is working on her first cookbook with Penguin Random House, based on the theme of SundayBest, and celebrating life everyday.
Therese Nelson is a chef, writer, and founder of Black Culinary History.com, a social network and digital archive she started in 2008 as a way to preserve black heritage throughout the African culinary diaspora, to celebrate and network black chefs globally, and to steward modern black foodways into this next generation.
Alan Batt better known in the culinary world as simply Battman, began his career as a photographer in 1981. Batt has taken photos for the New York Times, the U.S. Virgin Islands Tourism, NYC and Company, and ten years for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
In 2004, he published the recipes of 21 of the best chefs in New York in his first book, The Great Bagels and Lox Book. Batt has subsequently published 27 more books. Each year, he works with over 200 chefs to create a new book, and a corresponding book signing event, The Great Gathering of Chefs. Profits from these events and the book sales are given to various children’s charities.
His newest book, Toques In Black, is a collection of 101 Black Chefs from around the country. With stories, photos, and recipes, it shows the diversity of these chefs and their contributions to American culinary culture.