Black chefs of today are more than just professional cooks. Not only do they curate award-winning menus for establishments across the globe—whether their own or those that have hired them—but many also work to pay homage to our community's cultural foodways.

From taking traditional staples brought over from West Africa, such as yams or red rice, and transforming them into elevated dishes coupled with ingredients native to the Americas, Black culinary artists of today are helping to bring more visibility to the gastronomic traditions of the diaspora.

Here at EBONY, our goal is to always push Black forward—in every industry. This year, we would like to further this cause by giving flowers to some of the top Black culinary professionals around the world. This esteemed list was curated by looking at their contributions and accomplishments over the last few years. From opening new restaurants and being James Beard Award winners, to educating society on Black food in their own way.

So, without further ado—and in no particular order—we present the inaugural class of the EBONY Food & Wine Honors for Best Black Chefs.

Chef Kwame Onwuachi

Chef Kwame Onwuachi. Image: Dixie D. Vereen/Getty Images.

Nigerian-American chef Kwame Onwuachi is literally blazing his own path in the industry. Bursting into the spotlight after his appearance on Bravo's Top Chef in 2015, he's been at the helm of opening and cooking in some of the nation's—and world's—most highly rated kitchens and events. Always looking at the bigger picture, Onwuachi opened his own concept, Tatiana, in November 2022 in NYC's Lincoln Center. Beyond his top-notch culinary skills, the Long Island born culinary wizard is also a published author who's latest work, My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef, was released in May 2022.

Chef Mashama Bailey

Chef Mashama Bailey. Image: Aaron Davidson for Getty Images.

A force to be reckoned with, Bronx-born chef Mashama Bailey has been considered America's "most important chef" by many prestigious outlets. But when it comes to her list of accolades, the list is long. In 2019 , she was the James Beard Award winner for "Best Chef in the Southeast"—one of only two Black women in history at that time to receive such recognition. And in 2022, she won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef. Then, there's her restaurant, The Grey, which she co-founded with John O. Morisano in Savannah, Georgia. It has received worldwide recognition and plenty of awards. She's written cookbooks, appeared on Bravo's Top Chef and Chef's Table; yet her biggest accomplishment is teaching Black history through cuisine, something she's very passionate about. Since 2017, Bailey has served as chairwoman of the Edna Lewis Foundation, which works to "revive, preserve, and celebrate the rich history of African-American cookery by cultivating a deeper understanding of Southern food and culture in America.

Chef Charlie Mitchell

Chef Charlie Mitchell. Image: Courtesy of @chuckgood on Instagram.

Detroit-born chef Charlie Mitchell has done what no other Black executive chef has done—win a coveted Michelin star for his work at Clover Hill in Brooklyn, NY, which he co-owns. He's the first Black chef in NYC to receive this designation overall, and among only 3 Black chefs to accomplish such a feat in the prestigious guide's history. At only 32-years-old, he's just getting started, but his love for the kitchen was born from gathering with loved ones over great food as a child. His two goals: to receive at least 3 Michelin stars over the course of his culinary career, and to ensure that people leave his restaurant saying, that was the best meal I've had all year. We can say, he's well on his way.

Chef Maame Boakye

Chef Maame Boakye. Image: Courtesy of Chef Maame Boakye.

Hailing from Accra, Ghana, Chef Maame Boakye's storied culinary journey has spanned the globe. She is currently the CEO and Chef de Cuisine of GHastro in East Legon in Accra. The fine dining restaurant features traditional West African and Afro Caribbean cuisines. Although raised and educated in New York City, Boakye now works to give her homeland the shine that it deserves; after all, you can't talk about American cuisine of today without mentioning West Africa. Beyond her restaurant, the Ghanaian chef also won an episode of Chopped in 2020.

Chef Damarr Brown

This year, Chef Damarr Brown of Chicago's Virtue Restaurant was named a finalist for the James Beard Foundation's "Best Emerging Chef" award. In 2022, he was selected for Food and Wine's "Best New Chefs in America"class that year. Although he's still considered a newcomer compared to most, Brown was a standout on Season 19 of Top Chef while his style of merging flavors from around the globe—with a focus on those found throughout the diaspora—have people running to Chicago for a taste of his current restaurant's menu. Definitely keep your eyes open for this chef, as he will only get better.

Chef Damarr Brown. Image: Shannon Finney/Getty Images.

Chef Sophia Roe

Chef Sophia Roe. Image: Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images.

At only 33-years-old, Chef Sophia Roe is consistently shifting the way the world views food and its origins. Of Black and Japanese heritage, she uses her platforms to educate the masses about the cultural nuances in the culinary world, while politely letting folks know that Black foodways are an integral—and very important—part of the food history in the Americas. A former James Beard Award winner, Roe is also the host of the streaming series Counter Space, where she not only shares some of her best recipes and dishes, but she holds impactful and necessary conversations on cuisine and the way it impacts our lives and society as a whole.

Chef Shawn McKenzie

Another 2023 James Beard Award finalist, this time for the category of "Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker," Chef Shawn McKenzie is showing the world that pastry chefs are just as talented as others in the culinary field. With more than 20-years under her belt, McKenzie is now based in Minnesota where she serves as executive pastry chef for two concepts—Café Cerés (which she co-founded) and Rustica Bakery. Her baking portfolio runs deep, but her signature is chocolate chip cookies—a recipe she's been perfecting since she was just a kid.