I Was the First Black Man in America to Earn a Michelin Star and I Want to Make Sure I’m Not the Last


Michelin Star; Gerald Sombright; Chefs


On a summer evening in an energy-packed, lightly air-conditioned tent at the Orlando Ritz-Carlton, I stood in my chef coat with my stomach in turmoil, eagerly waiting to hear an announcement. I picked up whispers of congratulations and acknowledgements that our team at Knife & Spoon had won a coveted star for our restaurant, but I wouldn’t let myself believe it until the words were uttered by the president of Le Guide Michelin.

We had done it.

I did it.

All of the nights spent breaking down chicken or portioning lobster. The early mornings, the hours of family missed. All the sacrifices I’d made as I was vying to be better and desiring to be the best, working my way up to be chef de cuisine. Choosing where and what I cook over how much I was compensated. Honestly I only wanted to be respected by my contemporaries and have excellent technique. To be a cook amongst cooks and stand at the helm of my own brigade and march them through service victoriously night after night.

That was enough until it wasn’t.


By Gerald Sombright






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