2023 Chefs

Kwame Onwuachi


Washington, DC

Saturday, May 12th at the Grand Tasting & Auction

Kwame’s mother first exposed him to cooking in the family’s Bronx apartment where he helped peel shrimp and fabricate vegetables for her catering company. At age 11, Onwuachi moved to Nigeria to live with his grandfather who introduced him to a much different culture and cuisine from that of New York City. After returning to the States and graduating high school, Onwuachi moved to Baton Rouge where he got his first kitchen job cooking for the crews cleaning up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Coast.

The job allowed Onwuachi to save enough money to move back to New York City where he found a job waiting tables at Craft. Wanting to venture out on his own, he sold candy on the subway raising $20,000 in two months. The funds allowed him to start his own catering company Coterie Catering. Onwuachi found his passion for cooking through catering and yearned for formal training, so he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park. The training led to jobs at Per Se, Thomas Keller’s Michelin star-awarded New York City restaurant, and Eleven Madison Park, the upscale Madison Avenue restaurant headed by famed chef Daniel Humm.

In 2014, Dinner Lab selected Onwuachi to join eight other chefs for its pop-up dinner competition which awards the winner a chance to open new restaurant. He spent nine months cooking across the country, eventually winning the competition, but instead of taking Dinner Lab up on its offer, Onwuachi ventured out with Washington D.C. businessmen who he met through the series. Onwuachi then introduced them to his CIA roommate and Eleven Madison Park colleague Greg Vakiner who signed on to manage The Shaw Bijou.

Kwame Onwuachi went on to participate on Top Chef ending as a semi finalist in the top 6. He also was awarded Forbes 30 under 30 as well as Zagat’s 30 under 30. He has cooked at The White House, James Beard House, as well as Chef’s Club in New York City.  Kwame has secured a book deal with The Knopf Doubleday Group for a memoir and is now the Executive Chef of critically-acclaimed Kith and Kin at the InterContinental Washington D.C. – The Wharf, a much buzzed about restaurant claiming its place in the District’s thriving dining scene for its creative Afro-Caribbean fare since its opening in October 2017.