The basis of this blog is a story from a N. Y. Times newsletter called “Race/
Related”; however, I’m not sure now much of the story has to do with race.
It seems to me it has all to do with the impatience of millennials to have it all now.
So let’s begin with Priya Krishna’s newsletter story.
“By the age of 26, Kwame Onwuachi had already experienced the kind of head-
spinning rise and fall that most chefs never know in a lifetime.
“Growing up in a financially struggling family in the Bronx, Mr. Onwuachi was
sent to Nigeria at age 10 to live with relatives because he kept misbehaving in
school. Returning to New York two years later, he resumed his downward
trajectory, eventually joining a gang, selling drugs and being expelled from college.
Then Mr. Onwuachi turned things around. In his early 20s, he peddled candy on
the subway, then used the money to finance a catering business. He graduated
from the Culinary Institute of America, worked at the celebrated Manhattan
restaurants Per Se and Eleven Madison Park as a line cook, and competed on TV’s
‘Top Chef.’
“At 25, he was handed a carte-blanch offer to build the tasting-menu restaurant of
his dreams in Washington, D.C.—the Shaw Bijou, which quickly went from being
one of the most anticipated openings in the country to a much-heralded flop,
closing after just 11 weeks. It seemed the chef’s career was over before it even
‘The chef who once believed that the high-concept, high-priced Shaw Bijou, with
its Icelandic sheepskin chairs and handblown glass light fixtures, would catapult
him to culinary renown is instead running a hotel restaurant, Kith and Kin, and two
fast-casual places called Philly Wing Fry.
“He had begun writing his memoir. ‘I thought it was going to end with me opening
the Shaw Bijou and getting three Michelin stars—like, this is it!’ he said.
“But after all the hype, his fortunes tumbled: The restaurant ran out of money, Mr.
Onwuachi clashed with his investors and The Washington Post published a
negative review that drew nearly 500 comments. The investors closed the
“Onwuachi says he had become too caught up in his own vision. CI think about
what if I had asked more questions, if I were more experienced in business, if I had
asked about the budget in the beginning,’ he said. 4 We were on our way to making
strides. But instead of asking the right questions, I was excited in the moment.'”
Jumping from a line chef at age 26 to open the highest priced restaurant in a capital
full of high-priced expense account restaurants was a high jump of questionable
judgment. Black had nothing to do with it. Being an impatient millennial has
everything to do with it!
When they say you have to pay your dues, they mean having enough experience in
your chosen career, as well as enough life experience, to give your first
entrepreneurial launch a real chance.
The investors should have known better, too!