About five months after his first restaurant endeavour The Shaw Bijou in Washington D.C, failed, Chef Kwame Onwuachi, 27 is bouncing back!
“Thank you everyone for your continued support. The time has come to open my new place, here in D.C. It’s never easy getting back up, but it’s necessary. #cheers,” he wrote on Instagram.
He tells The Washinton Post that he’ll be opening the restaurant in the InterContinental Hotel at the Wharf later this year.
He refused to talk about the timing saying “I don’t want to say something and change my mind.”
Onwuachi received a vote of confidence after his stint at “Top Chef” where he finished sixth out of 17 contestants in 2016.
Kelly Gorsuch of Gorsuch Holdings, the principal owner of The Shaw Bijou, at the time the business closed down, said he saw himself as a silent investor, providing the capital for first-timers chef Onwuachi and general manager Greg Vakiner to build and run the high-concept restaurant they had been planning for years.
Onwuachi, who was featured on Fobers’ 30 Under 30 for Food and Drinks in 2017, around the same time his restaurant closed, was criticised for being too young and inexperienced to open an ambitious restaurant as that at the time.
A dinner for two cost $1,000 and includes a 13-course tasting menu, which would take diners on a journey through a converted townhouse.
On January 3, 2017, The Shaw Bijou slashed its prices and its offerings and rolled out a seven-course, $95 tasting menu, but the business folded up weeks later.
On how he feels after the experience, he said: “I did something, and it was critiqued, and that’s what happens when you put yourself out there.”
After Shaw Bijou closed, Onwuachi did a lot of events with some chefs and also traveled “just to get some inspiration.”
“Travel always opens your eyes, it always influences your cooking, and it’s a direct lens into someone’s culture,” he said.
He disclosed that much of the history of Washington D.C will influence his new project.
“There’s a lot of lessons learned from the last restaurant. The thing I take away the most is to never lose sight of your vision and your dreams. It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up that count.… I think I’m a testimony to that. I want to carry that into this next project,” he says.
Onwauchi’s first foray into food was working for his mother’s catering business. Years later, and with a CIA degree under his belt, he cut his teeth in the world of fine dining at Per Se and Eleven Madison Park.
Photo Credit: Twitter – @ChefKwame