Chef Kwame Onwuachi is famously known for his Shaw Bijou and Kith and Kin in Washington D.C. as well as Tatiana in New York City. In 2019, he was recognized as the Rising Star Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation and today, he is redefining Afro-Caribbean cuisine in the U.S.
His journey as a chef started with the Shaw Bijou, a tasting menu-based restaurant located in the Shaw neighborhood of Northwest Washington, according to the Washington Post. Shaw Bijou was closed less than six months after it opened in 2016, and Onwuachi moved to the Wharf to cook at Kith and Kin, which was owned by the Intercontinental Hotel Group.
The Bronx native also opened two locations of his high-end cheesesteak shop, Philly Wing Fry, and the second as a stall in Union Market. However, both of them closed in 2019. By 2020, he had moved back to New York to open Tatiana, another Afro-Caribbean fusion restaurant named after his sister.
Within 18 months of opening Tatiana, Onwuachi is back to the Wharf with Dogon. This new restaurant will open this spring along the Southwest waterfront at Salamander Washington DC, which is part of a major hotel enhancement project. Dogon is inspired by Benjamin Banneker, the Black cartographer mathematician who helped survey the city of D.C. in the late 18th century and whose heritage is linked to the West African Dogon tribe. The new Washington, D.C. restaurant’s cuisine will come from Onwuachi’s Nigerian, Jamaican, Trinidadian and Creole backgrounds.
D.C. has always been a second home to Onwuachi as some of his relatives live there. His grandfather was also a professor at Howard University, the Post said. Therefore, jumping at the idea of opening a restaurant in Salamander D.C. was not a difficult decision for him when Sheila Johnson, the owner of the Salamander properties and America’s first black woman billionaire, approached him in 2021 to discuss opening a restaurant at the Salamander D.C.
Onwuachi has already been hosting the Family Reunion, a celebration of diversity and inclusion in the restaurant industry, at Salamander’s Middleburg, Va., since 2021 and he would like to continue his partnership with Johnson. Also, another reason he decided to join the project was that the business would be “Black-owned, top to bottom.”
In 2020 when he left Kith and Kin, Onwuachi mentioned that he would like to cook for a Black-owned establishment. “Something that profits off of Black and brown dollars should be Black-owned,” Onwuachi told The New York Times when asked why he was leaving.
Ahead of releasing the details of the menu for his new restaurant, he said people should anticipate some of his “hits”, adding that there will be no shortage of new dishes inspired by D.C.’s culture and history.