Cooking up Change Judge Spotlight: Chef Kwame Onwuachi

May 26, 2016

Chef Kwame Onwuachi has been surrounded by cooking his whole life, but when he decided he wanted to become a chef, he found he didn’t have the money to fund his education. Instead of giving up, Kwame sold candy on New York City subways to save up.

And he’s certainly been making a name for himself. At just 26, Kwame has already competed on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and is set to open up The Shaw Bijou—a fine dining restaurant—in Washington, D.C., this year.

But before he opens those doors, Kwame will be a judge at our Cooking up Change national finals. And it’s a challenge he’s ready for. “As a chef, I think it’s very important to not only teach kids and teenagers learn how to cook, but how to live a healthy lifestyle,” he says. “The two go hand in hand. I jump at any opportunity that brings those skills together.”

Kwame understands the importance food plays in culture and education. “Food is heavily instrumental in the development and attentiveness of children in school. It is so important for me to speak up about healthy school food because one of the places where we can start the process of ending the escalating scale of childhood obesity is in school.”

And he also understands the importance of students speaking up for themselves and speaking out about the importance of healthy schools meals. “It is important for students to speak up about healthy school food because if they are talking about it then they are aware of its benefits,” Kwame says. “It will only get them excited and more knowledgeable about healthy food.”

Kwame will join our esteemed panel of judges on June 6 to taste and judge the meals of 10 Cooking up Change teams from across the country. As part of the student chefs’ experience in Washington, D.C., they will meet with their elected officials to talk about their Cooking up Change experience. The Cooking up Change competition not only serves as a way for student chefs to create school meals that appeal to their peers, but it also shows that school meals can be healthy, delicious and meet the strict nutritional and budgetary requirements.

Kwame is excited to be a part of this great competition and to share the experience with the tremendous and talented Cooking up Change student chefs. “Being a judge for Cooking up Change means a lot to me,” he says. “I can’t wait to see the excitement on the kids’ faces knowing that they created healthier meals for their peers across the nation.