The Rise of Chef Adejoké Bakare to London’s Culinary Stardom

By Duchess Magazine

Adejoké Bakare, originally from Nigeria, quickly transitioned from cooking at home to owning her own restaurant after winning the Brixton Kitchen competition in 2019. She opened the first Chishuru and has since become known as one of London’s most daring chefs, earning a Michelin star for her unique West African cuisine.

Despite not initially considering a career in cooking, Adejoké’s love for food was evident from a young age. Growing up in Kaduna, Nigeria, with a Yoruba mother and an Igbo father, Joké was exposed to a rich tapestry of food traditions. Her early memories are filled with the aromas and flavors of East Nigerian street food, lovingly prepared by her grandmother. Joké initially pursued a career in microbiology in the UK, only to rediscover her love for food through organizing supper clubs for friends and family.

It was the encouragement of her friends that finally pushed Joké to take a leap of faith and enter the Brixton Kitchen competition in 2019. Her unique blend of West African flavors and her ability to create dishes that resonate with the soul impressed the judges, leading to her victory in the amateur category. This win served as a turning point for Joké, reinforcing her belief in her culinary skills and paving the way for the opening of Chishuru.

Chishuru, which means “gratitude” in Yoruba, quickly became a beacon of West African cuisine in London. Joké’s menu, which she describes as West African rather than specifically Nigerian, celebrates the diverse culinary traditions of the region. Her dishes, inspired by the food she grew up eating, attracted both curious food enthusiasts and homesick Africans craving a taste of home

Despite her lack of experience running a restaurant, Adejoké’s Chishuru quickly gained popularity for its unique West African menu. Drawing in both curious diners and those familiar with the cuisine, Chishuru’s success led to a need for a larger location in Soho.

Joké remains humble and focused on her craft. For her, cooking is not just about creating delicious dishes; it’s about telling a story. Each dish at Chishuru is a chapter in the tale of her upbringing, a testament to the rich and diverse food culture of West Africa.

Joké’s dedication to her craft has not gone unnoticed. She received glowing reviews from critics and earned a spot in the top 100 restaurants in the UK at the National Restaurant Awards. However, she remains grounded, seeing these accolades as a reflection of the authenticity and passion she puts into her cooking.

In late 2022, Joké made the difficult decision to close Chishuru’s doors in Brixton Village in search of a larger space. Despite this temporary setback, her commitment to her craft remains unwavering. She continues to share her culinary talents through short residencies, ensuring that her loyal customers can still enjoy her creations while she prepares for the next chapter in her culinary journey.

In 2023, Joké relocated Chishuru to a larger site in Soho, refining the offering further, and in 2024, she achieved a significant milestone in her career: a Michelin star.

With a Michelin star under her belt in 2024, Adejoké remains focused on sharing the story of her upbringing through her food. Her dedication to showcasing West African cuisine in the best possible way has solidified her place as a rising star in the culinary world.

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