Carla Hall

The New Wave of Black Chefs: Culinary Innovators to Watch

Discover the black culinary innovators who are redefining gastronomy and carving a future for upcoming chefs. Dive into their inspiring stories and achievements.


Feb. 20 2024, Published 12:19 p.m. ET

Despite their culinary prowess and contributions to American cuisine, Black people have long been designated as cooks, but never chefs. Fortunately, the trajectory is steadily changing thanks to the new wave of Nlack aromatic chefs taking over the culinary industry. From redefining traditional dishes to introducing avant-garde concepts, these Black culinary trailblazers are breaking the barriers and crafting a delicious narrative beyond the plate.

Black Chefs Changing the Culinary Game

There are many chefs who have become household names of sorts for the Black Community thanks to their appearances on popular TV shows and media outlets. One of the first that might come to mind is Carla Hall. As noted by The Daily Meal, "Carla Hall has been called "the most visible Black person in food." She's known for her stint on Bravo's "Top Chef," her time as co-host on ABC's Emmy award-winning show "The Chew" and appearances on "Good Morning America." Aside from her three popular cookbooks, she's a judge on a number of shows and specials.

Article continues below advertisement

In 2018, her book "Carla Hall's Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration" received an NAACP Image Awards nomination." But what about those without the spotlight that Carla Hall has enjoyed? There are many other Black Chefs making names for themselves today and here we are going to highlight three that you might not have heard of before!

Check out these Black chefs who are not only mastering the art of gastronomy but also rewriting the script and carving out a path for future Black chefs in the culinary world:

1. Preston Clark

Chef Preston Clark is the Executive Chef at Lure Fishbar, a buzz-worthy seafood restaurant known to attract A-list celebrities like Justin Bieber. However, his passion for gastronomy began long before he joined Lure Fishbar. Born into a culinary legacy as the son of Patrick Clark, the 1194 James Beard Award winner, and raised amidst the embrace of his mother's culinary expertise, Preston's passion for food ignited early.

Article continues below advertisement

Despite losing his father at 16, he honed his skills during high school summers, working alongside chefs and immersing himself in America's contemporary dining scene. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Preston's culinary journey includes prestigious kitchens like Cafe Mezé and Jean Georges.

In 2011, he ventured into entrepreneurship, opening El Paseo, recognized among San Francisco's top restaurants. His accolades include Rising Star Chef and a James Beard Rising Star Award nomination. Today, at Lure Fishbar, he continues to elevate culinary standards across branches in Miami, Soho, NYC, and Chicago.

Article continues below advertisement

2. Mariya Russell

Although she nearly hung up her boots from the culinary world in 2020, Chef Mariya Russell is a Black culinary maven who made history in 2019 as the first Black woman to secure a Michelin Star in the guide’s 94-year history.

Her remarkable journey through the white-male-dominated fine dining realm defies norms. Mariya's culinary passion ignited in high school, leading her to The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. Post-graduation, she honed her skills at renowned establishments like The Bristol and Green Zebra.

While at Green Zebra, she met Cara and Noah Sandoval, who invited her to work as a chef at Kumiko and Kikkō. At Kumiko and Kikkō, she crafted a Japanese tasting menu, so tantalizing that it got her awarded the 2020 Michelin Star Guide and several others.

Despite stepping back briefly, Mariya and her husband host pop-ups across Detroit, showcasing her unwavering commitment to culinary innovation.

Article continues below advertisement

3. Jerome Grant

Chef Jerome Grant is a Black culinary innovator currently playing executive chef at Sweet Home Café, a renowned restaurant inside the National Museum of African American History and Culture. His culinary journey began with mastering Filipino cuisine from his mother and delving into Caribbean flavors inspired by his Jamaican paternal grandparents.

Article continues below advertisement

Jerome graduated from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute and moved to the US Virgin Islands, where he had his first brush with fine dining at the Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort. After a year at the resort, the chef co-founded a restaurant, the Mix Lounge. It was also during this time he moved back to the US, where he joined Urbana Restaurant in Washington, D.C., as an executive chef.

His culinary prowess extended to renowned establishments, including Mitsitam Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian, where he helped the team win the 2012 RAMMY Award for the Best Casual Restaurant and the Smithsonian Castle. A James Beard Award nominee in 2017, Chef Jerome Grant is also the chef-owner of Jackie in Washington, D.C. Grant served numerous high-profile clients in Washington, D.C. including then First Lady Michelle Obama.

Article continues below advertisement

Black Chefs Redefining the International Cuisine Scene

From breaking Michelin Star barriers to leading prestigious establishments, these black chefs stand as luminaries, redefining gastronomy with innovation, passion, and a rich combination of cultural influences. Black chefs are vital to American cuisine, infusing it with rich flavors and storied traditions rooted in African heritage. Their culinary contributions reflect a blend of innovation and history, from soul-food classics to gourmet fusions that challenge and redefine mainstream food narratives.

These talented Black chefs bring untold stories to the table and connect with diners through the shared love language of food. Black chefs not only add diversity to America's menus and dinner tables but also pave the way for equity in the industry, inspiring future generations of chefs of color. Their presence and influence ensure the tapestry of American cuisine is inclusive and authentic!

It’s not just a magazine. It’s a lifestyle!

Sign up for our newsletter for early access to content, special promotions and giveaways.

Dope content. No spam. We promise.


Opt-out of personalized ads

© Copyright 2024 Bleu Mag. Bleu Mag is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.