“A Culinary Conversation” with chefs Kwame Onwuachi and Chris Hastings, Oct. 4 – UAB News

Chef Kwame Onwuachi of fine-dining restaurant Kith/Kin is a Rising Star Chef of the Year from the James Beard Foundation and was just announced as the judge of the upcoming season of “Top Chef.” He will talk with Chris Hastings, chef and co-owner of Birmingham’s Hot and Hot Fish Club.

Kwame OnwuachiKwame Onwuachi, 2019 Rising Star Chef of the Year from the James Beard Foundation and judge of the upcoming season of “Top Chef,” will speak live with chef Chris Hastings for a virtual culinary Q-and-A at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4.

A Culinary Conversation starring Chef Kwame Onwuachi with Chef Chris Hastings” is presented by UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center.

This event is available for Virtual Arts Pass subscribers. By purchasing a Virtual Arts Pass, from $29 monthly, subscribers will also receive exclusive access to stream live drive-in concerts starring Three on a String, Raquel Lily, Xavier Foley and Eric Essix, as well as live conversations with chefs Scott Peacock and Frank Stitt, Sarah Urist Green from “The Art Assignment,” and more. To subscribe or for more information, call the ASC Box Office at 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org

A special VIP meet-and-greet opportunity will follow the culinary conversation. For more information on the VIP experience, email Savannah DeRieux at sderieux@uab.edu

After the event, Onwuachi will have a Q-and-A with university students, moderated by Eric Essix. Students interested in attending can contact rahrnsen@uab.edu to register.

The title of Onwuachi’s remarkable memoir, “Notes From a Young Black Chef,” riffs on the name of a slim volume penned more than 15 years ago: “Letters to a Young Chef,” in which French farm boy-turned-Michelin man Daniel Boulud doles out advice to those with the nerve, masochism and heart to carve out a career in a professional kitchen. 

“Letters to a Young Chef” provides a sober perspective of what lies ahead for chefs. “Notes From a Young Black Chef” looks back on the difficult path that one tough kid from the Bronx took to reach his goal: becoming a chef in charge of the fine-dining restaurant Kith/Kin inside the InterContinental at the Wharf, which has earned him the respect of critics and a James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year.

Like Boulud’s book, Onwuachi’s memoir should be required reading not just for future chefs, but for anyone who wants a glimpse into one man’s tale of what it is like to be young, Black and ambitious in America.

Onwuachi, 29, is the only son of a marriage that was not meant to be, according to his bio. His mother, Jewel Robinson, became a chef and caterer after she lost her job as an accountant. His father, Patrick Onwuachi, is an architect whose own father was a respected professor at Howard University, prominent in the Pan-Africanism movement. Young Onwuachi’s life in the Bronx was a world of aromas — seafood gumbo and jambalaya from his mom’s side of the family in Louisiana; egusi stew and jerk chicken wings from his father’s side in Nigeria and Jamaica; even South Indian curries from a neighbor in the building.

Chris and Idie Hastings are chef and co-owners of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama. Housed in a historic building on Birmingham’s south side, the award-winning restaurant has earned a reputation for serving some of the freshest and most refined dishes in the region. OvenBird is Hastings’ live-fire, casual restaurant located in Birmingham’s Market District at Pepper Place. Their menu focuses on the amazing seasonal Southern ingredients and takes inspiration from the live-fire traditions of Spain, Portugal, Uruguay, Argentina and the American South. 

Hastings honed his skills at the Johnson & Wales Culinary School in Providence, Rhode Island. After graduation, he moved to Birmingham — where he and Idie met — and worked for Frank Stitt as chef de cuisine of Highlands Bar and Grill. Later, he also helped to open Bottega, Stitt’s second restaurant in Birmingham. In 1989, the couple moved to the Bay Area, where Chris worked under Bradley Ogden to open the Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, California. In 1995, the couple opened the Hot and Hot Fish Club, which was one of the first farm-to-table restaurants east of the Mississippi.