11 Incredible African American Chefs Making History

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Black females have been killing it in the kitchen since the beginning. But some are exceptionally good and are worth talking about. Read on to discover eleven African-American chefs making history. 

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1. Makini Howell

Makini Howell is a restaurateur and vegan chef based in Seattle, Washington. Her top-notch restaurant,  Plum Bistro, is a vegan fine-dining restaurant in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

2. JJ Johnson

Aged 39, JJ Johnson is an author and chef popularly known for cooking the food of the African diaspora. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he moved to Ghana to study West African meals. When he returned to the United States, he cooked for Centro Vinoteca, Tropico, Tribeca Grill, and Jane.

3. Edouardo Jordan

Born in 1980, Edouardo Jordan is a black restaurateur and chef based in Seattle, Washington. Jordan then attended the Le Cordon Bleu and secured his first kitchen job in Tampa, Florida. In 2015, he launched his own restaurant, Salare, in Ravenna, Seattle.

4. Kwame Onwuachi

Kwame Onwuachi was born to Nigerian and African-American parents in the Bronx, New York. His passion for cooking was ignited at a young age, inspired by his mother’s Nigerian cooking and his diverse culinary experiences growing up. Onwuachi’s culinary career began in earnest when he attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

5. Timon Balloo

Born in Miami, Florida, to Trinidadian and Chinese parents, Balloo’s multicultural background heavily influences his culinary style. Inspired by his family’s diverse culinary traditions, Timon Balloo developed a passion for cooking early on. Balloo’s career took off when he joined the renowned restaurant Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill in Miami. 

6. Preston Clark

Chef Preston Clark is the executive chef of Lure Fishbar, an area of Mercer Street hospitality. Clark manages Lure’s three locations, including NYC and Soho. Preston Clark obtained his Bachelor’s degree from the renowned Culinary Institute of America in 2002

7. Kiki Bokungu Louya

Born in Detroit, Kiki Bokungu Louya is known as a change maker in the United States food industry. Kiki Bokungu Louya has more than 20 years of experience working in food. She has provided thought leadership for the Detroit Food Policy Council.

8. Jerome Grant

Jerome Grant, a highly accomplished chef, graduated from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute in 2002.  In 2008, Grant joined the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian Mitsitam Cafe as sous chef, contributing to its 2012 RAMMY award for Best Casual Restaurant. 

At Sweet Home Cafe, he received a James Beard nomination for:

  • Best New Restaurant (2017)
  • Best American Cookbook (2019)
  • Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (2019). 

9. Max Hardy

Max Hardy is among the African-American chefs making history. He got his first Culinary experience in Tampa, Florida, as a student in the culinary arts program at Wharton High School. While in school, Max started his cooking enterprise called Chef Max Miami. His enterprise specialized in French, American, Asian, Kosher, and Caribbean cuisine. Within a short period, Chef Max Miami became a huge success. 

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Max Hardy’s cooking skills have been viewed nationwide as a competitor on Food Network’s hit shows, Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay. He received the My Brother’s Keeper Award by President Obama (2016).

10. Nyesha Arrington

Born 18 October 1981, Nyesha Arrington is an accomplished African American chef who has made significant contributions to the culinary world. 

Nyesha Arrington was a contestant on Top Chef” Season nine. And she has been a mentor and judge on Fox’s Next Level Chef television shows.

People also read: Black People Food: These Nine foods are Uniquely African American

11. Mashama Bailey

Mashama Bailey is a black chef trained in French cooking methods. She’s cooking Southern cuisine. In 2019, Bailey received the James Beard Award as Best Chef of the Southeast. In 2022, she was also awarded a James Beard Award as Outstanding Chef.

The eleven African-American chefs covered here are making history with their kitchen skills. 

People Also Read: The Most Famous Soul Food Restaurants in the US

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These 11 incredible African American chefs are making history with their culinary talents, innovation, and dedication to their craft. Their contributions to the culinary world are reshaping perceptions, highlighting the richness of African American cuisine, and inspiring future generations.

People Also Read: Chefs Shaping African Cuisine’s Future

People Also Read: 10 Popular Black-Owned Restaurants in Orlando

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Uchenna Agwu
Uchenna Agwu
Hi there! I’m Uchenna Agwu, and I love to write. When I’m not writing, you can usually find me reading books or watching documentaries (I’m a bit of a nerd). But I also like to get out and explore – whether that means going on hikes or checking out new restaurants.

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