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What Chef Kwame Onwuachi Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: Getty

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hair spray and the electric toothbrush. We asked chef Kwame Onwuachi — the author of Notes From a Young Black Chef: A Memoir and a judge on the new season of Top Chef — about the candle, knives, and jeans he can’t live without.

Pink is the best Starburst flavor. I don’t know why they bother to make any others. They make all-pink packs now so I don’t have to sift through a multipack and get those stupid orange and yellow ones. Some days are heavy Starburst days, some days are light Starburst days, but every day is a Starburst day. That’s one thing they don’t tell you about becoming an adult: You can eat candy at any time and buy as much as you want.

With most durags, you get a line on your forehead when you take them off. This one is made from a very, very soft material — it doesn’t leave that line on your forehead afterward. I’ll wear it during the day if I have to go somewhere because it helps keep my waves tight, but usually I just wear it to sleep.

I light candles when I meditate each morning. This one is the signature scent of my home. It’s kind of masculine and a little musky — I don’t really like fruity scents. I originally found it at CB2, but I see the brand everywhere: vintage shops, candle shops, all over.

When I walk into my local H&M, I know exactly where to go because these jeans are always in the same spot. They’re really good. I’ve been wearing them in the kitchen for at least ten years. They go with everything, are slim, and last a long time. They just fit legs really nicely and stop right at the shoe, so they don’t bunch or anything. No one would know they only cost $20.

When you’re working as a line cook, you don’t make a lot of money. I think the most I ever made was like $10 an hour or something like that. Inox knives can go for a couple hundred dollars, so it took a while to save up to get one. I bought this knife when I opened my first restaurant. There’s a knife shop in New York City called Korin that always has really, really nice knives on display. I would go there just to look at the inox knives. They are sleek and hold an edge for a long time. They’re also really lightweight but made with really hard metal, so you can cut through a variety of things easily. My chef’s knife is six years old, and I still use it regularly to this day. I actually used it when I competed on Top Chef.

For some strange reason, underwear is something that lots of men spend the least amount of money on. I’m an advocate of splurging on boxers, and I’ll scream it from the mountaintops: Men, please invest in your boxers! Everybody needs nice undergarments. These are really soft and comfortable. They feel like you’re not wearing anything. Lululemon gifted me my first pair. I was like, Okay, this is kind of a strange send. Then I put them on, and they just fit perfectly. I’ve bought a bunch more since. They’ve spoiled other boxers for me.

It’s kind of a signature for me. When you walk into a room, people notice your scent, and this is one that I like to be associated with. It’s a very sophisticated, warmer, masculine scent. I get compliments on it often. I found it in a duty-free shop on my way back from Hong Kong about three years ago. I was trying to buy some alcohol — I’d never purchased cologne in an airport, but I had some time to kill so I started smelling everything and this one smelled fantastic. When you smell cologne, there’s always one that hits you differently. There’s some chemistry involved, and I fell in love with this.

The only blender I’ve ever used in my restaurants and at home. It’s the gold standard of blenders because it’s high-powered and doesn’t burn out. You can purée anything really smoothly in this — I’ve used it to make everything from smoothies to protein shakes to vinaigrettes to hummus.

The peach-pear flavor tastes really good. It’s refreshing and light and goes with everything I eat. I drink it every day and keep a stockpile in my house at all times.

I wore these all the time as a judge on this season of Top Chef. I brought a lot of clothes with me, and having a clean, cool sneaker I could wear with everything was easier than packing a ton of different shoes. They’re supercomfortable, and designer sneakers tend to last a lot longer than athletic shoes so they’re worth the investment to me. Plus, they don’t look like the sneakers everyone else owns. I’ve had this pair for about a year now. I’ve liked wearing designer sneakers since I was a kid. As a teen, I would spend months saving up all my money and then go to Fifth Avenue to buy Prada or Louis Vuitton sneakers.

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What Chef Kwame Onwuachi Can’t Live Without