My Kitchen: Adejoké Bakare, Chishuru, London

The head chef of the west African restaurant is the first black female chef to be awarded a Michelin star in the UK. She tells Elsie Clark about going from winning a pop-up spot to opening her own restaurant

I was the oldest in my family and was expected to cook for my younger siblings, and that’s where my love for cooking began. My heritage is a mix of Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa, the three main tribes of Nigeria, and bringing together those three culinary traditions is what Chishuru is all about.

It was only recently that I began doing supper clubs, and I entered a competition to win a three-month pop-up spot in Brixton Village in London.

After a review from The Observer newspaper, Brixton Village asked me to make it permanent. After trading in Brixton for two years and a further series of pop-ups, we opened our new permanent home in Fitzrovia in September 2023. The style of the restaurant is sophisticated yet homely and welcoming, so we’ve used warm colors and fabrics, showcasing authentic materials with rough plastered walls and stonework custom- made in North Africa.

We inherited the kitchen from the previous tenant, Pho, which is a vietnameses restaurant, so the extraction and the ‘bones’ of the kitchen were in excellent shape. It was essential to me that I had an open kitchen so that there can be communication between kitchen, front of house and customers.

Our most important piece of kitchen equipment is the Thermomix. Finely blended sauces are used in so much of my food. If there’s one piece of kit in the kitchen I could change, it would be the charcoal grill – it can be a challenge maintaining a consistent temperature throughout a busy service.

We rotate stations between the chefs to keep things interesting. We offer a set menu only here so it’s all about focus. We work sensible hours and just need to be very organized to make sure all the tasks are completed in time for service. Chishuru will always be a single site restaurant. We do have another concept in the back of our minds, but it’s far too early to be thinking about such things.

Elsie Clark

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