D.C. area native Dave Chappelle was in town over the weekend to accept the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and he recruited Kith/Kin chef Kwame Onwuachi to spearhead multiple meals over the past two days.
The famous stand-up performer and sketch comedy star got Onwuachi, a rising media star in his own right with a best-selling memoir and a bio-pic in the works, to serve some of his favorite Afro-Caribbean dishes for a private meal Saturday and to select the menu for the awards banquet at the Kennedy Center on Sunday.
Onwuachi tells Eater he served Chappelle braised oxtails and and a whole fried red snapper during a kickoff dinner Saturday night at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Afterward, Chappelle joined big-name friends like Chris Tucker and Tiffany Haddish at the DC Improv for an impromptu set.
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Last night I get to tell my grandchildren about one day. Not only did I get a chance to cook for the Mark Twain award gala for the greatest comedian of my generation Dave Chappelle, but I got to witness an impromptu, private stand up special by Dave Chappelle, Chris Tucker, Tiffany Haddish, Donnell Rawlings, Cipha Sounds, and more. Can’t wait to do it again tonight for the award show.
The menu at Sunday’s 1,200-person dinner credited Onwuachi with “curating” a three-course meal that included a mizuna salad and seared chicken breast with curry velouté and chickpea relish. Kith/Kin’s mushroom forest was the vegetarian option. A team of 100 prepared the meal, which came with $500 tickets to the Twain Prize ceremony. Some of the high-profile guests in attendance included House democrats Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff.
Sunday night’s dinner was also a coming out party of sorts for the Kennedy Center’s new executive chef, Jaime Montes de Oca, Jr., a NYC hospitality vet who was most recently cooking at the Hay-Adams and Cosmos Club.
Onwuachi has had a banner year, winning the James Beard award for Rising Star Chef of the Year, being recognized as a Best New Chef by Food & Wine, and releasing his book, Notes from a Young Black Chef. Onwuachi’s favorite actor, Atlanta and Sorry to Bother You star Lakeith Stanfield, will play him in a movie adaptation of the book. Onwuachi is acting as an executive producer, and a writer is coming to D.C. to shadow him soon.
Chappelle, who grew up in Silver Spring and attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts in the District, first took notice of Onwuachi’s food a year and a half ago during a meal at Kith/Kin. The comedian’s latest Netflix specials have drawn criticism for using transphobic and homophobic humor and questioning the credibility of molestation accusations made against Michael Jackson.