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‘Young Black Chef’ Kwame Onwuachi Just Released a Trio of Unisex Nail Polishes with ORLY

On Tuesday, March 15, award-winning chef Kwame Onwuachi and ORLY released three new unisex nail polishes: Eggplant, Chef’s Kiss and Saute. The limited-edition Kwame x ORLY nail polishes were designed to withstand high temperatures and hard work (such as you might perform in, say, a kitchen). Each of the new polishes can act as a 1-step manicure system, which means the breathable formula can be used without a top coat.

SPY spoke with Onwuachi by email prior to the release of the collection, and we asked if we could expect more beauty or fashion projects from him in the future.

“Haha you will definitely see more from me, perhaps some more nail polish colors or even something else!” Onwuachi said. “I’ve always been into style and it’s about finding the right channels to express that side of me.”

In addition, ORLY sent SPY the Kwame x ORLY collection, and we got the chance to try out these polishes for ourselves. You can read our full review of the Kwame x ORLY collection below. The limited-edition nail polishes can be purchased as part of a bundle or separately and are priced at $12.

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Courtesy of Riyah Martin for ORLY

Chef Kwame on His Limited-Edition ORLY Collection

Onwuachi is a critically acclaimed young chef who’s known for having great taste inside and out of the kitchen. In 2019, the James Beard Foundation named Onwuachi the Rising Star Chef of the Year, and his second cookbook, My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef, will be released on May 3, 2022. ORLY is a popular beauty brand known for its colorful nail polishes, and according to the company, Onwuachi first mixed these nail polish shades at the ORLY Color Lab in Los Angeles, where customers can create custom nail polishes.

“The creation was quite simple for me,” Onwuachi told SPY over email. “I wanted to make colors that I wear and that are true reflections of me! The colors were inspired by my identity and a gentle nod to my time in the kitchen. Black is one of my go-to nail colors, which is why this inky black shade is called Chef’s Kiss. The vegetable Eggplant is truly versatile and one of my go-to staples. Plus the color shifts when you hold it in a different light, which is why I wanted this dark purple to have a shimmer to reflect the versatility of the vegetable. Kitchens are decked out in chrome so of course I had to create a shade, Saute, to mimic that high-energy kitchen. I played around with the shades a bit at ORLY Color Labs where I was able to mix the shades with a Color MIxologist until I got the color and finish just right.”

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This writer had the chance to try out the nail polishes, and you can see a photo of my inexpert manicure below. Compared to other nail polishes I’ve tried, the Kwame x ORLY collection was really easy to use, and I appreciated the fact that I could skip a top coat.

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Timothy Werth |
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Timothy Werth |

I do my nails about once a month, and up until now, I’ve exclusively used my girlfriend’s nail polishes. We’ve written about the best nail polish for men on SPY before, and I’ve noticed that most of these polishes come in neutral colors like black. I asked Onwuachi why we don’t see brighter colors in unisex nail products like this.

“I think we are seeing them but I think men like to wear nail polish colors that are a bit more understated and that’s why darker colors are a go-to. It’s an accessory so feel free to express yourself as you see fit, if bright colors are for you then go for it,” he said.

I’ve only applied this nail polish once, but overall I’m impressed with this collection. The application brush is exactly the right size for getting good coverage, and the formula goes on easily and without too much mess. In terms of colors, the black Chef’s Kiss is a classic black nail polish with a little bit of shine. The Eggplant shade has a tiny bit of shimmer, and it’s a very deep purple. Finally, Saute is a bold shimmery silver, and it may actually be my favorite of the new set. A little of the silver polish goes a long way, but it dried quickly and I love the way it looks.


Kwame x ORLY Is Nail Polish for a Good Cause

The new Kwame X ORLY trio also supports Big & Littles NYC, a non-profit that provides mentorship for children. Onwuachi has worked with the non-profit before, and proceeds from the limited-edition collection will be donated to the non-profit. On top of that, ORLY will match the donation.

The three colors are available separately or together at the ORLY online store, and you can order them now.

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Courtesy of Riyah Martin for ORLY


Editor’s Note: The quotes in this article have been lightly edited for clarity and grammar.


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