Kwame Onwuachi and Sheila Johnson on The Family Reunion

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Award-winning Washington DC chef Kwame Onwuachi (formerly of Kith/Kin) and Salamander Hotels & Resorts Founder & CEO and BET co-founder Sheila Johnson discuss The Family Reunion (LINK) , black culture, and diversity in the hospitality industry. The Family Reunion was an immersive experience presented by Onwuachi in partnership with Food&Wine and Salamander Hotels & Resorts on August 19-22, 2021 where dozens of chefs, culinary and hospitality professionals and a few hundred attendees celebrated diversity in the hospitality community.

“I’ve been a part of so many food festivals… and I was wondering why there wasn’t anything that really just celebrated black contributions to the food industry. We need to have an event that celebrates black and brown contributions to the food industry on a black owned property with a historical context,” says Onwuachi. Johnson is pushing the hospitality industry on diversity and equity. “We’re going to grow it, and we will continually shine light on the issues until we can get the problem solved, to really get minority-owned restaurants and hotels… we really want to level the playing field here. No more hiding in the shadows. No more being afraid to move forward,” she declares. Both are excited for the prospects of bringing so many diverse voices together.

Resources and Mentions:

Sheila Johnson

Sheila Johnson

Founder and CEO
Ms. Johnson is Founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, which operates a collection of luxury properties with over $200 million in revenue and is ranked No.4 in Minority-Owned Companies in the Washington DC Metro area. As Vice Chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, she is the only African-American woman to have ownership in three professional sports teams: the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals (2018 Stanley Cup Champions), and the WNBA’s 2019 World Champions Washington Mystics, for which she serves as President and Managing Partner. In 2017, she was named on Forbes Magazine’s Top 50 America’s Richest Self-Made Women. Ms. Johnson has long been a powerful influence in the entertainment industry, starting with her work as founding partner of Black Entertainment Television. She has served as executive producer for several documentaries and feature film Lee Daniels’ The Butler. In recognition of her humanitarian efforts and accomplishments, she has been honored with several awards including the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, Lincoln Medal Award, Women’s Sports Foundation Billie Jean King Leadership Award, W. E. B. Du Bois Medal, the Annie Oakley Award; Lincoln Academy of Illinois’ The Order of Lincoln medal, Jacob Burns Film Center Vision Award, Feminist Press’ Feminine Award, and the Washington Business Hall of Fame Laureates award.  
Kwame Onwuachi

Kwame Onwuachi

Chef
Kwame Onwuachi is a Nigerian-American chef based and a leading voice for Black and Brown workers in the culinary profession. He was a contestant on Top Chef in 2015 and has been recognized by Food & Wine magazine, Esquire magazine and the James Beard Foundation as one of the best chefs in America. Onwuachi began cooking on a boat serving crews cleaning up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He opened his own catering business and then in 2012 enrolled at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Following graduation, he worked as a line cook at Eleven Madison Avenue and opened Kith/Kin in Washington, DC. Chef Onwuachi is a founding member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, which was formed to save the local restaurants and bars affected by COVID-19 and the subsequent economic fallout.

Salamander Hotels and Resorts

While Salamander Hotels and Resorts can be likened to a diverse collection of fine art – with each piece possessed of its own singular mystique and allure – it is also true that they’ve all been painted with the same delicate brush, wielded by a management team whose flair for creativity is equaled only by its ability to delight, surprise and resonate with guests on a deeply emotional and memorable level.

Recent Podcasts


Wednesday, September 01, 2021