Earning a Michelin star is one of the top feats for a restaurant. Adding a young, Black chef to the mix makes it even more of a remarkable moment.
In 2022, Chef Charlie Mitchell made history as the first Black Michelin-starred chef in New York City and the second Black executive chef in the country to accomplish the feat, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. After taking over Clover Hill in Brooklyn Heights as its executive chef and owner, the Detroit native received the honor in the same year.
Mitchell’s success in the culinary industry goes back to where the journey all started — being inspired by his grandmother to get in the kitchen. His passion for food led him to fully pursue becoming a chef. Deciding not to go the school route, the eager chef went straight into gaining real-life experience after searching for the best restaurants in Detroit to work at.
“And that’s how I found my first little kitchen,” Mitchell told AfroTech. “And then from there, it kind of just opened my eyes to the world of what fine dining was and put me on to Michelin stars and all these best restaurants in the world. And then once I learned about what I could do — what the ceiling was — then, I started to create a plan from there and chase that dream. It took probably about three years of me cooking before I really knew what I wanted to do.”
After moving from Detroit, MI, Mitchell made pivotal strides in fine dining such as working at three Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park. His path eventually led him to Clover Hill, which he runs alongside his business partners Clay Castillo and Gabriel Merino. The restaurant initially opened in 2019 but closed due to the pandemic. However, the growth after its relaunch has been one to watch.
Clover Hill’s menu offers upscale American dishes. Thanks to its Michelin star, there has been quite a bump in reservations. While its popularity has surged, the heart of the intimate restaurant is being dedicated to giving its customers a quality fine dining experience.
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“I think it was because we decided to really be intentional about the food we serve and really make something more delicious, and really make sure the service was up to par as well,” Mitchell shared about his perspective on how Clover Hill received a Michelin star. “And wanting to create a product that was delicious and ingredient-focused. I think all of those things shined, once people started to eat here.”
He added, “We felt like we were just doing something in this area that was a little bit different.”
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Along with Mitchell being the first Black Michelin-starred chef in New York City, Clover Hill is located in a predominately white neighborhood. Mitchell hopes for his restaurant’s success to inspire more people of color to open businesses in the affluent area.
“I think it should be encouraging for people of color to come to the neighborhood,” he told us. “[Clover Hill has] definitely had an easy transition, if I could be honest. I think people were happy to see us here.”