We recently had the honor of having Chef Kwame Onwuachi on the farm for a visit.
Like many chefs, Kwame’s interest in cooking was sparked by his mother, who operated a catering company while growing up. “My mother's peel and eat Cajun shrimp is probably my favorite thing in the world to eat,” says Kwame. By the age of 20, before working in some highly regarded restaurants such as Per Se (where he did his culinary externship) and Eleven Madison Park, Kwame had started his own catering company. From there, he was offered the opportunity to travel with Dinner Lab, a roving supper club series that travels to major cities in the U.S.
After a year of roughing it in the catering world, I finally got my own commercial kitchen space at Hot Bread Kitchen in NYC. The head baker had once been the head baker at Per Se, so when I went to the Culinary Institute of America, he made a couple phone calls for me and I was in.
I met Daniel Humm at the Culinary Leadership Awards. I hung out with him after that at Eleven Madison Park for a project at school and asked him for a job. The highlight of these two experiences was really about setting the foundation for me, I had been cooking for most of my life but that solid refined foundation is what I was lacking. Once you get that you can take that anywhere and succeed.
I think becoming a restaurant owner has had the biggest impact on me. It is like you finally get it, you understand why some of your chefs were so hard on you. It also adds another dimension of who you are as a person by being in charge of other people’s livelihood.
My mother is the only reason I am opening this restaurant, so it is only right that I name my first one after her. Shaw, is the district in Washington DC and Bijou means Jewel in French which is my mother’s name. I put the two together and The Shaw Bijou was born.
The surprise of it all!!
Nostalgic stories or those ah ha moments.
Never give up and chase what makes you happy.
Coming Late Winter
The Shaw Bijou is scheduled to open late winter. The menu will consist of approximately 15 to 18 tasting courses of “modern American cuisine with global inspiration. Onwuachi often credits his Bronx upbringing, his mother and his travels around the country for exposing him to a variety of cuisines.
Featured dish: Rat tail radishes, pork belly, cucumber emulsion, carrot viniagrette, and cucumber leaves.