Notes from a Young Black Chef

A Memoir
Narrated by: Kwame Onwuachi
Length: 7 hrs and 37 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (581 ratings)

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Interview: Listen in as celebrity chef Kwame Onwuachi talks about joining a pantheon of chef memoirs that share jarring truths about the industry, and leaning into his story in a new and exciting way by narrating the audio for his memoir.

The beautiful thing about cooking is that you don't wave a wand and it's all done.
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  • Notes from a Young Black Chef
  • The beautiful thing about cooking is that you don't wave a wand and it's all done.

Publisher's Summary

“Kwame Onwuachi’s story shines a light on food and culture not just in American restaurants or African American communities but around the world.” (Questlove)

By the time he was 27 years old, Kwame Onwuachi had opened - and closed - one of the most talked-about restaurants in America. He had launched his own catering company with $20,000 that he made from selling candy on the subway, yet he’d been told he would never make it on television because his cooking wasn’t “Southern” enough. In this inspiring memoir about the intersection of race, fame, and food, he shares the remarkable story of his culinary coming-of-age. 

Growing up in the Bronx, as a boy, Onwuachi was sent to rural Nigeria by his mother to “learn respect”. However, the hard-won knowledge gained in Africa was not enough to keep him from the temptation and easy money of the streets when he returned home. But through food, he broke out of a dangerous downward spiral, embarking on a new beginning at the bottom of the culinary food chain as a chef onboard a Deepwater Horizon cleanup ship, before going on to train in the kitchens of some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the country and appearing as a contestant on Top Chef

Onwuachi’s love of food and cooking remained a constant throughout, even when he found the road to success riddled with potholes. As a young chef, he was forced to grapple with just how unwelcoming the world of fine dining can be for people of color, and his first restaurant, the culmination of years of planning, shuttered just months after opening. A powerful, heartfelt, and shockingly honest story of chasing your dreams - even when they don’t turn out as you expected - Notes from a Young Black Chef is one man’s pursuit of his passions, despite the odds. 

“This is an astonishing and open-hearted story from one of the next generation’s stars of the culinary world. I am so excited to see what the future holds for Chef Kwame - he is a phoenix, rising into better and better things and showing us all what it means to be humble, hungry, and daring.” (José Andrés) 

Includes a PDF of recipes from the book. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Kwame Onwuachi and Joshua David Stein (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Kwame Onwuachi is memoirist turned narrator. His style is characterized by an unblinking honesty through which he reveals the story behind one of the most talked about new restaurants in Washington, DC. Onwuachi's indignation at the restaurant industry, and chronicle of his life as the child of Nigerian immigrants, is told at a rapid pace, laced with simmering critiques of both. Listeners who are unfamiliar with his story will find themselves cheering as a wayward child from the streets of the Bronx makes good on his love of food. Fans of the cooking world, including shows such as 'Top Chef,' will be entranced." (AudioFile Magazine)

“Kwame Onwuachi has given us something to crave. A culinary autobiography sitting at the crossroads of West Africa, the American South, and the Caribbean and beyond mixed with his journey to find himself and the flavors that make him unique. This is the future of Black food writing and a new chapter in the saga of how chefs come of age.” (Michael W. Twitty, author of The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

“A young black chef’s raw and gritty tale of survival, ingenuity, and hustling. Kwame takes us on this journey where he eventually finds himself captivated by the culinary world of fine dining. A fast-paced page turner with inspirational recipes at the end of each chapter.” (Carla Hall, author of Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration)  

“This book is a testament to the old adage, ‘it’s not how hard you hit but how you respond after being hit.’ Chef Kwame Onwuachi is a living example of bouncing back when hit with challenges and obstacles. Notes from a Young Black Chef is an inspiring tell-all about the reality of being a young Black chef in the world of fine dining and all the roads taken to become a culinary sensation.” (Edouardo Jordan, chef/owner of Salare, Junebaby, and Lucinda Grain Bar)  

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Food offers more than just sustenance: it’s a way to connect with others, to fine-tune a skillset, and to savor some of life’s simplest pleasures. Sharing a meal that you’ve put your heart into or gathering around a communal table offers a unique sense of warmth and togetherness that just can’t be replicated anywhere else. Whether you're looking for cooking inspiration or memoirs from your favorite chefs, these audiobooks are sure to satisfy.

What listeners say about Notes from a Young Black Chef

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YOU BETTA COOK!!!!

I can't wait to visit his newest restaurant... sometimes things happen for us to gain knowledge as opposed to "esteem" or "fame." This book was so amazing to me, I made my Big Bro go and buy it. I HOLLERED about the pee test situation and marveled at the love that his mother showed... a Queen indeed (moms are the most special man)! The book is a must read for anyone looking to go the distance no matter what-- crazy thing is, my big brother works on the water and he brags on their chef which lead me to believe his story even the more and revel in Kwame's passion for even the little things! All in all, read the book... cause he is a UNICORN in his own right!!!

**I even went back and watched his run on Master Chef-- YOU WERE ROBBED GOOD SIR!!! Yet you are where you are meant to be TODAY--push through Chef K-O!!**

8 people found this helpful

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A must read for food and memoir lovers.

This was one of my favorite memoirs, right up there for me with Noah Trevor's Born a Crime and Jeannette Walls' the gGass Castle. Thank you, Chef!

6 people found this helpful

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Beautiful stories....Experienced many emotions

I met someone at a party I catered from Brooklyn a couple of weeks ago. She mentioned the book and suggested that I read it. Being so busy I decided to try the audible book.

Being a native of NOLA, listening to the beginning and the discussion of the food I knew brought me comfort and interest.

I experienced so many emotions though out. I experienced , sadness, joy, disgust and amusement . There were times while in my car, I experienced uncontrollable laughter. Kwame’s story telling was vivid and edgy. I felt drawn in and right there in the chapter.

I am so looking forward to knowing what ‘s next with Kwame and wish him all the happiness he desires.

God bless

Chef Lisa Givens

6 people found this helpful

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DC should be proud to have Chef Kwame

A fan since Top Chef and someone who followed the story of the Shaw Bijou in real time here, I was excited to hear Kwame’s story. Full of ups and downs that made him the chef and person he is today, I really appreciated his ability to paint a picture with his story telling. Even better, to hear it in his own voice via Audible edition. I can’t wait to try Kith and Kin, and Philly Wing Fry has two of the best sauces in town. I was glad to finally hear the inside story on Shaw Bijou and i think it’s telling how much it all meant by opening and closing his book with it. I’m glad Chef decided to stick it out in DC even when it seemed like the food scene here turned its back on him. It’s exciting to see a young chef find his own way and carve out space for others to do the same. I’m exited to hear more out of him and the other voices in his kitchens.

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Exceptional!

It was an incredible story. I am great fan of true stories about overcomers.

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Fascinating

Very engaging. Enjoyed Kwame’s telling of his life story and struggles along the way. His determination is inspiring. I expect we will see much more of this young chef in the future.

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Beautiful memoir

One of my favorite chefs. I only knew bits and pieces of his story. Learning the twists and turns is amazing. If you want a story of resilience and leadership this is a good one.

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A Chef Story to Feed Your Soul

This story was one of mastering the kitchen and life lessons by remaining true to yourself.

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amazing

he takes you on the ups and downs highs and lows it so many shifts go through

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Wonderful book

I love this book I love the reading I loved Kwame I would highly recommend this

1 person found this helpful