Chef Charlie Mitchell Talks Culinary Pride
This feature is in our March '23 "Next Wave" Issue. Click here to subscribe.
Dryaged shima aji with osetra caviar. Photographed by Natalie Black
Charlie Mitchell’s (@chuckgood) first-ever dish he made with his grandmother was coffee cake. The feeling of taking pride in something he made motivated him to be a chef. Though he didn’t become a baker, his grandmother’s inherent recipes and techniques translated into critically acclaimed restaurants nationwide. Today, Clover Hill (cloverhillbk.com) is Mitchell’s brainchild.
Chef Charlie Mitchell. Photographed by Natalie Black
The Brooklyn Heights restaurant promptly earned one Michelin star, only eight months after its grand reopening (amid COVID closings) on top of a feature in The New York Times. Mitchell holds the title of the first Black Michelin-starred chef in New York City, and he makes the second Black chef nationally to earn that accolade.
Chocolate and coffee tartlet with candied hazelnuts Photographed by Natalie Black
“It’s really hard for me to put into words,” Mitchell says of the esteemed honor. “That was never a goal of mine, but I do love that other chefs coming after me have someone to relate to, and I hope that it shows them that everything they want to accomplish is possible. That being said, the job is not done yet. We have to continue to move in the right direction in this industry.”
Grilled sawara with collard greens and ham hock consomme. Photographed by Natalie Black
Growing up in Detroit, Mitchell’s culinary experience came from working in restaurants in his hometown. At 19, he worked as a lunch cook under Nick Janutol at Forest in Birmingham and became a sous chef three years later. In search of broader horizons, he took executive chef and sous chef roles in culinary hotbeds like New York (Betony, Eleven Madison Park, Villanelle) and Washington, D.C. (Bresca), to expand his palette.
The chef preparing a dish in Clover Hill’s kitchen Photographed by Natalie Black
Over the years, the various skills and techniques he’s learned have all been poured into Clover Hill. With Mitchell at the helm, the restaurant’s intentional, ingredient-focused vision is the pulse of the restaurant.
The menu changes with the seasons to give patrons the freshest dishes possible. Currently, seafood dictates the cuisine, including bluefin tuna toro, Norwegian langoustine, Hokkaido scallops, Ora King salmon, madai snapper and king crab.
“I believe as chefs we have an obligation to cook what the area around us offers us while also trying to use the best ingredients available,” Mitchell says. “Usually, when your ingredients are seasonal and sourced locally, you can trace the source much better and have a greater understanding for the product quality and what is actually going into the dishes you are making and serving.”
All the cooking at Clover Hill is thoughtful and rooted in technique; however, Mitchell’s only aspiration is “to make everything as delicious as possible.”
“THE JOB IS NOT DONE YET. WE HAVE TO CONTINUE TO MOVE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION IN THIS INDUSTRY.” –CHEF CHARLIE MITCHELL
When asked about some of the must-try dishes at Clover Hill, he replies, “The whole menu! We want everyone to trust us and enjoy the entire experience. We are pretty proud of it.”