How will restaurants survive the economic collapse caused by the COVID-19 pandemic? Award-winning Washington DC chef Kwame Onwuachi (formerly of Kith/Kin) talks to Billy Shore about the how the current crisis is exposing the vulnerability of the restaurant industry and the fundamental changes that must occur for independent restaurants to survive. “I would hope we don’t just go back to the same normal, that we create a new normal that really makes sure that we’re taking care of our staff and our community as well as the bottom line,” says Onwauchi. “The power is in the dollar. Where you spend your money is where publications go, what they write about,” he explains.
In his memoir Notes from a Young Black Chef and a recent article in the Washington Post, Onwuachi takes on issues of race and diversity in the culinary world. “I went through a struggle in trying to find a path to the cuisine of my heritage. Investors and owners have constantly pushed me to do what they think is right, instead of what was authentic to me,” he wrote in the Post. “I try to speak my mind and speak truthfully. There are a lot of people who share similar stories and when they hear someone being vocal about it, it lets them know that they’re not alone,” he says.