London’s Nigerian-inspired restaurant Ikoyi Is Now the Only African Restaurant with a Michelin Star In the UK

London’s Ikoyi restaurant has become the first African restaurant in London to earn a Michelin star at the Michelin Guide UK 2019 awards, Evening Standard reports. The restaurant is one of six fine dining spots in the central UK hub to get the star.

Originating from France, the Michelin star is a rating system by the Michelin Guide. It was first introduced in the 1920s as a way to grade restaurants. The guide, which is updated once a year, rates restaurants on a three-star scale based on quality, with one star signifying “a very good restaurant”. Two stars are “excellent cooking that is worth a detour”, and three stars are “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey”.

Co-owned by Iré Hassan-Odukale and Jeremy Chan, Ikoyi has been called a modern, or contemporary, “West African restaurant” in the media. Hassan-Odukale and Chan, however, have a higher ambition: “to place West African ingredients, flavours and references in the fine dining sphere; a sphere that has, up to now, unhelpfully and systemically overlooked the entire continent,” London Eater says.

Founders Iré Hassan-Odukale and Jeremy Chan. Courtesy: London Eater

Having earned its first Michelin star in the latest Michelin Guide UK & Ireland 2019, announced 1 October 2018, Ikoyi may very well be on its way. The restaurant prides itself on its innovative perception of West African ingredients. “We combine bold heat and umami with the highest quality products in a warm and welcoming environment,” the restaurant says on its website.

The restaurant, located in central London, was founded by the pair a little over a year ago as a way to draw attention to contemporary West African cuisine with their own unique interpretation of ingredients from the region.

In an interview with LondonLovesBusiness, Chan said: “We’ve had some fantastic feedback from customers, critics and guides about the food at Ikoyi but, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t think we would receive this accolade so soon – we’ve only been open for 14 months.”

A dedicated group of individuals on the continent are also making sure Africa’s culinary sphere makes its name across the world. With the works of creatives like food writer, Yemisi Aribisala, and chefs, Tunde Wey, and Ozoz Sokoh, contemporary Nigerian cuisine is gaining the attention it deserves.

Iré Hassan-Odukale and Jeremy Chan have also been invited to this year’s Food on the Edge in Galway, Ireland on the 22 & 23 October and a month later, Chan will attend the 4th edition of the annual Margaret River Gourmet Escape in Perth, Australia from the 16-18 November.

“Gaining a Michelin star so soon after opening is testament to the commitment and the hard work of the entire team at Ikoyi,” Hassan-Odukale said. “We really couldn’t be prouder.”