‘Top Chef’ Behind-The-Scenes Secrets Revealed By Former Contestant Kwame Onwuachi

Racism, alcohol, and a serious lack of privacy all get discussed in the chef's new book.

Chef Kwame Onwuachi of Kith/Kin DC and Chef Joseph 'JJ' Johnson at DC Central Kitchen's Capital Food Fight on November 16, 2017 at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC.
Larry French / Getty Images

Racism, alcohol, and a serious lack of privacy all get discussed in the chef's new book.

Season 13 Top Chef contestant Kwame Onwuachi is publishing a new book, and in it, he spills all the secrets about the top-rated Bravo show, according to Radar Online. The Bronx native’s tell-all book dishes on the drinking habits of contestants, why they often find themselves facing boredom and depression, the lack of privacy from producers, and his experiences with racism in the fine dining industry.

Notes from a Young Black Chef hits shelves on Tuesday, and no memoir would be complete without his experiences on the show. Onwuachi, who was eliminated on the 13th episode of the show, spent a lot of time with his fellow contestants, so he is well positioned to be able to share all the secrets.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has spent time in the dining industry that there is a lot of drinking happening behind the scenes. Onwuachi says that while the chefs waited to hear who was sticking around and who was packing their knives and heading out, the liquor was flowing.

“After the challenge segment ended, we all headed into the stew room, where contestants waited – fueled by ample booze – to learn our fates,” he wrote in the book.

The competitors would be wise to watch how much they drink, however, because the former Per Se chef says that their conversations were monitored by the producers. Personal phone calls could even be recorded and played on the show.

When they weren’t numbing themselves with booze or racing around the Top Chef kitchen, there was a lot of waiting around. It took its toll on him and his fellow contestants’ mental health.

“There was not much we could do but stew in a mixture of boredom and depression,” he said.

Even when they were eliminated, that didn’t mean the torture would end. Onwuachi wrote about how difficult it was to stick around the house even after they were told to leave the competition.

“Because there’s such a long gap between filming and airing, eliminated contestants are kept quarantined together in a house until the season finale is filmed,” he recalls in the book.

Loading...

According to NPR, the chef also opened up about his experiences in fine dining, which weren’t always positive. He said that people would make jokes that were racist. One time, he was told not to worry about a term that could be offensive to black people on a menu at a restaurant because “black people don’t eat here.”

“These jokes happen more than you think,” Onwuachi says. “We get looked over [for advancement] more than you think. And it’s not the direct racism…. it’s the unspoken racism that’s hurtful.”