Kwame Onwuachi aims to turn The Shaw Bijou into a jewel of the DC fine dining scene.
Kwame Onwuachi, 26, waged such a charm offensive on the latest season of Top Chef—what with his preternatural poise and globally-inspired, modern American cuisine—that his sixth-place finish hurt his prospects not one bit. Case in point: The early front-runner is about to open The Shaw Bijou, an ambitious, 28-seat fine-dining concept that boasts a 17-course tasting menu and absolutely no white tablecloths.
What’s the philosophy behind The Shaw Bijou’s menu? Kwame Onwuachi: When a dish has a story, it usually has a soul, and it tastes better. The servers can get behind it, the cooks can get behind it. It’s an all-around better dish.
How about the vibe? KO: We’re inviting you into our home. It’s going to be very refined, clean, but [also] very warm and homey.
What was the hardest thing about Top Chef? KO: Giving them my cell phone.
If I recall, you were a bit star struck by Chrissy Teigen’s guest spot. KO: That’s editing! [Laughs]
You sound a little defensive. KO: No, no. She’s a beautiful woman. What human, male or female, doesn’t appreciate beauty?
How does it feel to join the DC food scene? KO: I’m excited to be a part of [it]—reshaping the way fine dining is perceived, making it more approachable.
It’s not just about white tablecloths anymore. KO: We have no white tablecloths. Tablecloths are there to hide ugly tables usually. We’re showing off our craftsmanship. 1544 Ninth St. NW