‘My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef’ is part memoir, part cookbook

'My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef' is part memoir, part cookbook
Kwame Onwuachi’s “My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef.”Handout

“The pantry is the soul of diaspora cuisine, where hardships have been turned into, for my money, the richest, deepest and most delicious flavors in the world,” says award-winning chef Kwame Onwuachi in his new book, “My America : Recipes from a Young Black Chef” with Joshua David Stein (Knopf). Onwuachi grew up in the Bronx, spent time in Nigeria with his grandmother and in Louisiana with his mother, all experiences that shaped his vision of the diversity of American cuisine. The book, part memoir, takes you on Onwuachi’s journey, where he travels to meet relatives, explore the foods of the African diaspora, and a cookbook with over 125 recipes that capture the flavors of his family’s stories. Onwuachi, winner of the James Beard Award, contender and judge for ‘Top Chef’, among other accolades, trained in French techniques at the Culinary Institute of America and cooked in fine dining restaurants. In the book, he brings us global home dishes and lists the origins of each recipe. He starts with instructions for spice blends – first a universal Creole go-to house blend, a suya blend that originated in Nigeria, to a fiery berbere from Ethiopia. There are recipes for Nigerian jollof rice and fried fluffy puff pastry, Senegal’s chicken yassa and the Jamaican beef patty. You’ll find recipes for crawfish pie and jambalaya from the American South, and soursop granita, the icy treat sold at stalls in the Bronx, and more. Recipes aside, Onwuachi’s personal journey alone is a thought-provoking read. $35. Available at bookstores and online booksellers.


Ann Trieger Kurland can be reached via [email protected]