Best Black Chefs in the Business Celebrated at the Iconoclast Dinner

Paul Carmichael, Kwame Onwuachi, Ebow Dadzie, Joseph “J.J.” Johnson, Nyesha Arrington and Preston Clark COURTESY OF LEZLI LEVENE HARVELL
Paul Carmichael, Kwame Onwuachi, Ebow Dadzie, Joseph “J.J.” Johnson, Nyesha Arrington and Preston Clark

On June 4, black chefs Joseph “J.J.” Johnson, Nyesha Arrington, Paul Carmichael, Preston Clark, Ebow Dadzie and Kwame Onwuachi, along with prolific sommelier Luvo Ntezo and Bacardi’s Colin Asare-Appiah, brought together their incredible palate-pleasing talents to honor the late legendary chef Patrick Clark with the Iconoclast Dinner Experience at the historic James Beard House in New York City. 

Chef Clark was a leader in the culinary world. He pioneered the New American cuisine movement and brought European sensibility and techniques of nouvelle cuisine to the United States, thus bringing us to the forefront of the global culinary community.

Food enthusiast and founder of the Dental Kidz Foundation Dr. Lezli Levene Harvell organized the delicious event to honor trailblazers of color in food, wine and spirits. Harvell says that the James Beard House is like the Carnegie Hall of food, and being invited to “perform” there is one of the finest honors a chef could have.

“I hand-select the honorees based on a number of things. First I try to maintain regional and global diversity,” says Harvell, noting that this year’s honorees hail from Cape Town, South Africa, and Sydney, as well as Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C.

This year’s wine honoree, Luvo Ntezo, was born into apartheid and is now the head sommelier at the One & Only Cape Town, which has the largest wine library in Africa, says Harvell.

Spirits honoree Colin Asare-Appiah, who is originally from London and who now travels around the world as a senior ambassador for Bacardi, has been recognized by his peers as a tastemaker with multiple nominations in their benchmark industry event, Tales of the Cocktail.

Host chef Joseph “J.J.” Johnson, executive chef of The Cecil and Minton’s in Harlem, is a past James Beard Foundation Rising Star Award semifinalist. He chronicles the pathway of the African Diaspora through his food, says Harvell.

Other amazing honorees include Nyesha Arrington, executive chef of Leona in Venice, Calif., who’s been Eater’s Chef of the Year; Paul Carmichael, executive chef of Momofuku Seibo in Sydney, who is a James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef nominee; and Ebow Dadzie, who was named one of the top 10 pastry chefs in America by Dessert Professionals magazine. And then there’s Patrick Clark’s son, Preston Clark, who was a James Beard Foundation Rising Star Award semifinalist and is chef de cuisine of Lure Fishbar in New York City.

And the one to watch? Kwame Onuwachi. He’s this year’s Iconoclast NextGen. The 26-year-old is in the process of opening the Shaw Bijou in Washington, D.C., where he plans to serve an ambitious 15- to 17-course tasting menu.

Harvell’s event may seem extravagant and filled with fancy flavors, but the theme was something far simpler: Black chefs matter.


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Source: The Root |  DANIELLE YOUNG