Skip to Main Content

Campus Book Read 2020: Notes from a Young Black Chef

This guide includes supplemental teaching resources to help you discuss Notes from a Young Black Chef and the book's themes with your students.

Notes from a Young Black Chef


The Campus Book Read for 2020 will be Notes from a Young Black Chef,  an award-winning memoir by Kwame Onwuachi, executive chef of Washington D.C.’s popular restaurant, Kith/Kin. While a summer read will no longer be a required part of first-year student orientation, Notes from a Young Black Chef is an excellent campus read because of its connection to the 2020 Faith, Reason, and World Affairs symposium theme, Food for Good, as well as its themes of diversity, vocation, and perseverance. 

Onwuachi turned 30 years old in November 2019 and was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2019 and Esquire’s Chef of the Year 2019. At the 2019 James Beard awards, Onwuachi was named Rising Star Chef of the Year for 2019. Notes from a Young Black Chef is a final round nominee for Good Reads Best Food and Cookbooks of 2019 and on NPR’s Best Books of 2019 list. Notes from a Young Black Chef is Kwame Onwuachi’s first book, and it is being made into a film starring Lakeith Stanfield.

Penguin Random House, the book’s publisher, describes it in this way: By the time he was twenty-seven years old, Kwame Onwuachi…had opened—and closed—one of the most talked about restaurants in America. He had launched his own catering company with twenty thousand dollars that he made from selling candy on the subway, yet he’d been told he would never make it on television because his cooking wasn’t “Southern” enough. In this inspiring memoir about the intersection of race, fame, and food, he shares the remarkable story of his culinary coming-of-age. As a young chef, he was forced to grapple with just how unwelcoming the world of fine dining can be for people of color, and his first restaurant, the culmination of years of planning, shuttered just months after opening. A powerful, heartfelt, and shockingly honest story of chasing your dreams—even when they don’t turn out as you expected—Notes from a Young Black Chef is one man’s pursuit of his passions, despite the odds.