Charlie Mitchell: NYC's First Black Chef With A Michelin Star

Out of all the chefs turning food into art in New York City, Charlie Mitchell is the only Black culinary artist to be honored with a Michelin star. As the second American Black chef to be awarded the distinction, Mitchell is setting an inspiring lead for others to follow.

Hailing from Detroit, Mitchell skipped culinary school, instead gaining on-the-job experience in restaurants throughout San Francisco, New York City, and Washington, D.C. As Mitchell told Tasting Table, when he moved to New York City, he realized he needed to take his craft seriously if he wanted to continue in the field. "The pace and professionalism in the kitchens were a lot different," he admitted. With support from his family and friends, Mitchell was determined to work hard and grow in the industry. "I take the majority of my inspiration from chefs who've come before me and built something great," he said.

Thoughtfully designed hospitality

Charlie Mitchell has held prestigious positions at Eleven Madison Park, Jônt, Bresca, Villanelle, and One White Street, but Clover Hill is the first kitchen he has commanded as executive chef. When Clover Hill cofounder Clay Castillo offered him the job, Mitchell leaped at the opportunity to design his own menu and create a hospitality experience from the ground up. From selecting seasonal produce to choosing the style of wine glasses served alongside each course, Mitchell's input has been instrumental in the restaurant's success.

The result — an elegant 700-square-foot restaurant tucked away on a tree-lined Brooklyn block of brownstones — seats around 30 diners. The atmosphere is decorated with books and art, and wooden floors and patterned ceilings elicit memories of old New York enchantment. You'll need a reservation to find yourself inside the comfortable dining room, but once you land a coveted seat, you're in for a culinary treat. Clover Hill is clear about its intention to create an environment that feels like home, and together with Castillo and Gabriel Merino, Mitchell has succeeded — while earning topmost accolades in the process.

The plates Mitchell sends out of his kitchen are not only gorgeous to look at but also exquisite to taste. The $225 tasting menu is a thoughtful mix of new American and French cuisine made up of carefully sourced ingredients and masterfully plated courses, with textures and colors artfully contrasting and complementing each dish.

A commitment to excellence

Not only has Charlie Mitchell helped the Clover Hill team claim their first Michelin star, but he has also been labeled Best Young Chef and is in the running for James Beard's Emerging Chef award. "Restaurants five times as large wish they could do what Clover Hill does from its postage-stamp of a kitchen," Michelin gushes about the romantic candlelit space.

Per Nation's Restaurant News, Mitchell suspects that many chefs of color are tempted by other opportunities, like running casual restaurants in familiar environments, and end up leaving the world of fine dining. He attributes his success to patience and perseverance.

When asked for the encouragement he'd give to aspiring chefs, Mitchell offers, "The most important advice is to learn as much about food as possible, admire the craft, and make sure you prioritize learning the business side of running the restaurant." Thankfully, it seems that this is only the beginning for Mitchell.