Brooklyn, NY – February 8, 2023: Portraits of Chef Charlie Mitchell at Clover Hill in Brooklyn Heights. Photos by Clay Williams. © Clay Williams /

Charlie Mitchell Achieves Michelin Star Status at Clover Hill in Brooklyn Heights


The first time a young man in Detroit heard about a Michelin star, he was just starting his foray into fine dining. His understanding of what it meant to receive one or more of those stars shaped the ambitions of Charlie Mitchell, the executive chef of Clover Hill in Brooklyn Heights. 

“Once I got immersed in it and started working at a kitchen where I was performing at a high level, Michelin became one of my goals, one of the only goals, to be honest,” says the Clover Hill co-owner.

In February, the executive chef met one of those goals when he received his first Michelin star for his culinary accomplishments at Clover Hill. “I thought that is what you did. You worked in fine dining. You get one, two or three Michelin stars if you are lucky. That is what made you a great chef. That is what I was taught when I started cooking seriously.”

Star Status at Clover Hill

The Michelin Guide’s recognition matters to most chefs, cooks and restaurateurs because it is viewed as an authority on restaurant quality in 32 countries. Mitchell’s star at Clover Hill validates the chef’s achieving Michelin standards for flavor, mastery of culinary techniques and personality of dishes. “It means everything. I was initially taken aback by it and didn’t know what it would mean,” Mitchell says.

Chef Mitchell believes his conversations with other cooks and chefs about the impact of Michelin stars and other top accolades deepened his understanding. His view of the award shifted from a more ego-driven goal to a broader business perspective. 

“I’ve learned I have a different appreciation for the job at all levels. Other chefs work very hard too and don’t have Michelin stars,” adds the Brooklyn chef. “Now, my perspective is more like this thing is going to keep the business open. It’s going to allow us to put butts in seats and showcase what we do at a high level.”

Yet it is remarkable that Mitchell received the Michelin award in his first executive chef position and Clover Hill’s first full year in operation. General manager Clay Castillo and co-owner Gabriel Merino opened the Brooklyn Heights restaurant a few months before the COVID pandemic shut down businesses. 

The rebirth in February 2022 introduced patrons to Mitchell and his partners’ new culinary vision for Clover Hill and the chef’s cooking. “People are coming here to support me, but they also love what we do and the product we are putting out,” says Mitchell.

The Detroit native is one of the few Black chefs in the world to receive a coveted star. Michelin also gave the Brooklyn Heights restaurant owner the 2022 New York Young Chef Award. This year, Mitchell became a semifinalist for the James Beard Emerging Chef Award. “I didn’t really have anyone like myself to look up to early in my career, so if I can be that for other young Black chefs, it’s awesome,” Clover Hill’s executive chef replies.

Brooklyn, NY – February 8, 2023: Portraits of Chef Charlie Mitchell at Clover Hill in Brooklyn Heights. Photos by Clay Williams. © Clay Williams /

Seasonal, Seafood and Homey 

How did Mitchell develop his culinary talents? He focused on mastering skills in fine-dining establishments where he was often the only Black person in the kitchen. He chose on-the-job training over culinary school and left Detroit for restaurant jobs in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York City. 

“Just committing to learning about food and caring about the food I’m serving to people made a big difference. I think about the meal and the guest first, and I think it shows.” 

His work as sous chef and executive sous chef at NYC’s top-rated Eleven Madison Park, Villanelle and One White Street influenced Mitchell’s ingredients-first approach to creating his cuisine. “Primarily, the focus is finding the best ingredients I can to serve to my guests and have the cooking be very honest in that regard,” he says.

At Clover Hill, that translates into dishes Michelin describes as making “… the most out of top-rate seasonal ingredients, delicious sauces and thoughtful combinations.” The Guide applauded Mitchell’s fluke ceviche and Peekytoe crab salad from last summer’s menu. 

Seafood ranks first among the chef’s favorites to prepare. “I always felt like the best cooks and chefs were really good at breaking down fish, so I kind of got obsessed with it at a young age,” says Mitchell. “You can do a lot of techniques with seafood, and it is a very sustainable product.”

Chef Mitchell appreciates another aspect of serving seafood and vegetables to his guests. “We want to keep in mind how people feel when they leave here. I think you feel better, and it helps keep the menu light.”

That preference for lighter dishes does not require patrons to skip desserts created by Mitchell and his sous chef. “We like to make sure dessert is fun or nostalgic. We like to make sure we finish the meal on a good note, the same way we start the meal,” the chef shares.

Clover Hill’s fine-dining personality is about more than exceptional, seasonal food. The atmosphere at the 26-seat restaurant promotes coziness over intimidation. “We don’t want people to feel stuffy or like they can’t talk to their friends, laugh and joke,” says Mitchell. “It’s a little out of the box for typical fine-dining restaurants, especially in New York City.”

The restaurant in Brooklyn Heights Historic District welcomes diners into a warm, intimate setting with brick walls, an open kitchen and soulful music. “People should feel almost at home and relaxed. They feel like they are getting a home-cooked meal in a fine-dining environment. I think that is what we try to create, which is challenging,” Mitchell explains.

Continue reading over at Cuisine Noir.

Words by Phyllis Armstrong.

Cuisine Noir Magazine is the country’s first Black food publication, launched in 2009 and dedicated to connecting the African diaspora through food, drink and travel.  To read the rest of this article and more, visit

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