Black chefs are often inadequately represented; however, that’s still an enormous talent pool of chefs changing America.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of Black chefs in the United States is around only 17%. Considering that the Black community actively represents the hospitality industry, there’s a significant gap.
The conversation about racial equality has finally reached our plates, and the best way to address it is by recognizing the incredible talent of Black chefs in their kitchens.
With Chinese and Trinidadian parents, Chef Balloo was nominated by the James Beard Foundation for his dedication to locals and seasonal ingredients as Best New Restaurant.
Today, Timon Balloo is the chef-partner at SUGARCANE raw bar grill, with locations in Miami and Vegas, but he worked up the ranks from the hotline to the dessert station and everything in between.
His fusion of cultures earned Chef Balloo the title of “The People’s Best New Chef” by Food and Wine. Try the tuna poke bowl or the Hokkaido scallops, and don’t miss the duck & waffle, a gorgeous leg confit with a fried duck’s egg over a mean, satisfying waffle.
The James Beard award-winning Saint Lucian chef and owner of the award-winning Compère Lapin and the Bywater American Bistro in New Orleans traveled from her hometown in the sunny Caribbean to New York City to study in The Culinary Institute of America. Chef Compton was also a fan favorite in the BRAVO’s Top Chef New Orleans cooking show.
The food at BABs is upscale, yet Caribbean comfort food. From Chilled Corn and Coconut Soup to Jerk Chicken, from Curried Rabbit to a satisfying slice of pound cake.
Today, Chef Kia Damon is the Culinary Director of Cherry Bombe media network. But she has an extensive history in the kitchen. Having cooked for herself since young and working fast-food chains, Kia is self-taught, but that didn’t stop her from gaining recognition at a small eatery called Lalito in New York, where she soon became head chef.
The chef uses her platform to talk about racial inequality and never misses an opportunity to create awareness with her “Black Lives Matter” tattoo. Kia infuses her food with comforting southern flavors — think whole steamed snapper wrapped in banana leaf and duck confit mac and cheese.
Chef ‘JJ’ Johnson is a James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef and author, TV host, and entrepreneur. Chef Johnson graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and worked several high-end restaurants in New York City before winning BRAVO TV Rocco’s Dinner Party cooking competition. Championing the Afro-Asian infusion, JJ hit the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list and won New Best Restaurant in America with his own The Cecil.
African cuisine not only well represented in JJ’s projects; the chef is bringing it to the new century while respecting the Black Continent’s traditions.
Chef Tunde Wey is a Nigerian activist-artist, cook living in New Orleans, with a strong advocate for an equitable culinary world. He taught himself his way around the kitchen and has used his skills to make a statement.
In a social experiment, he charged white customers twice the price offered to black patrons to evidence the country’s income inequality.
Don’t miss Chef Wey’s pop-up dinners to explore his take on Pan-African flavors, but look closely, his food is never only a meal, its a statement and a silent cry for justice in each delicious dish.
Take Your Pick
Visiting any of the restaurants above, or showing up at the chefs’ pop-up dinners, guarantees an awe-inspiring meal and a marvelous time, no matter what you choose from the menu. And this is just a drop in the bucket; talented black chefs are achieving cult status all around the country.
Please support your favorite chefs and reward them with your presence, primarily due to the pandemic. The road for racial equality in the kitchen can, and will, change one bite at a time.
Are you feeling hungry already?