The awning of Ubuntu

Chef Shenarri “Greens” Freeman Opens Vegan Restaurant in LA

The West African-inspired Ubuntu opened in West Hollywood in August

Courtesy: Overthrow Hospitality

ICE alumna and James Beard Award Semifinalist Shenarri “Greens” Freeman is bringing her inspired vegan food to Los Angeles.

Ubuntu, the new restaurant helmed by Chef Shenarri, opened at 7469 Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood on August 1, where it's serving up a dynamic menu full of West African-inspired flavor. And, as per Chef Shenarri’s signature style, everything on the menu is completely vegan.

Diners at Ubuntu have no shortage of multi-faceted, savory bites to choose from. A few of the restaurant's signature items are the jackfruit yassa, curry jollof arancini, seitan suya and the charred okra salad, which is served with pigeon peas, red kidney beans and a vibrant passion fruit vinaigrette.

An assortment of dishes from Ubuntu sit on a white tablecloth
Clockwise: Jackfruit Yassa, Puff Puff Bread, Curry Jollof Arancini, Palm Bisque, Lions Mane Pie, Plantain Cardamom Tart, Fonio Grits and Charred Okra Salad. Courtesy: Overthrow Hospitality.

After growing up in Richmond, Virginia and living and working in the D.C. area for much of her life, Chef Shenarri moved to New York City in 2019 to attend school at the Institute of Culinary Education's NYC campus. There, she graduated in 2020 from the Health-Supportive Culinary Arts program (now named Plant-Based Culinary Arts) and opened her first restaurant, Cadence, just a year later in 2021.

That venture proved successful — to say the least. In the short time since its opening, Cadence has been recognized time and time again with numerous accolades by NYC food media. The food at Cadence, which is innovative interpretations of the soul food dishes Chef Shenarri grew up eating, earned Chef Shenarri a James Beard Award semifinalist nomination for Best Chef: New York State in 2023.

Both Ubuntu and Cadence are part of the Overthrow Hospitality group, owned by restaurateur Ravi DeRossi, which operates multiple concepts in New York City. Ubuntu is the group’s first restaurant located in Los Angeles.

Chef Shenarri "Greens" Freeman
Chef Shenarri "Greens" Freeman. Courtesy: Overthrow Hospitality.

“After the success we have experienced with Cadence, we are thrilled to bring Chef Shenarri’s magical blend of plant-based cooking, care for community and exploration of her heritage to Los Angeles,” DeRossi says. “Her unique culinary talent, along with Colin’s expertise in the cocktail space, will create an unforgettable dining destination in the heart of West Hollywood for Angelenos and visitors alike.”

While Cadence re-imagines the soul food Chef Shenarri grew up eating, Ubuntu delves even deeper as an exploration into the food her ancestors may have eaten. The menu was inspired by a month Chef Shenarri spent traveling throughout Africa to connect with the cuisine of her ancestors.

Of course, the food is complemented by a refined, fun menu of signature cocktails created by Colin Asare-Appiah, the author of “Black Mixellence: A Comprehensive Guide to Black Mixology” in collaboration with the team at the renowned Ghanian cocktail bar Front/Back. The wine selection, curated by Overthrow Hospitality’s Wine Director Drew Brady, features wines made by Black-owned vintners.

A yellow drink with a slide of charred pineapple sits on a counter
The Chi Chi Passion Fizz at Ubuntu. Courtesy: Overthrow Hospitality.

Chef Shenarri is thrilled.

“I’m extremely excited about the opening of Ubuntu,” Chef Shenarri says. “It’s a dream come true to be opening my first ever restaurant in Los Angeles with Ravi, Colin and our amazing team. I am proud to honor my heritage with a modern, fun, vegan interpretation of such a diverse cuisine, and look forward to creating a welcoming space for our neighbors.”

From all of us at ICE LA: Welcome to California, Chef Shenarri. We’re so glad you’re here and cannot wait to try the entire menu at Ubuntu.

Try Chef Shenarri's Recipe:Stuffed Collard Green Wraps

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