“In culinary school, I learned to cook at a very high level,” said JJ Johnson of Henry at Life Hotel restaurant in Manhattan. “In Ghana, I learned who I was and what I should be doing with my life.”
The spotlight, many say, is long overdue. Black cooks have historically seen their foods and techniques co-opted, getting little credit for their influence on America’s culinary traditions. “There have always been black hands in American food,” said Jerome Grant, the chef at Sweet Home Café in the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
But this new vanguard is working to make sure that its ascent is more than a passing moment.