Adejoke Bakare, a Nigerian-born UK chef, has made culinary history by becoming the first black female chef in the UK to be awarded a Michelin star. Her restaurant, Chishuru, located in London’s Fitzrovia, achieved this milestone less than six months after transitioning from a pop-up shop in Brixton Village to a permanent establishment.
Born in Kaduna, Nigeria, Bakare’s culinary journey was shaped by her multicultural heritage, with influences from her Yoruba mother and Igbo father. Her earliest memories of food involve watching her grandmother prepare traditional East Nigerian street food, instilling in her a deep love for cooking from a young age.
Despite her passion for food, Bakare initially pursued a career in microbiology in the UK, considering cooking merely a hobby. However, after winning the Brixton Kitchen competition in 2019, she decided to follow her passion and open her restaurant, Chishuru.
Chishuru quickly gained recognition for its West African cuisine, offering a diverse and innovative menu that appealed to both Brits and customers familiar with West African flavors. Bakare’s dishes garnered acclaim from food critics and publications, earning her a place among the top 100 restaurants in the UK at the National Restaurant Awards.
Bakare’s culinary prowess and dedication to her craft were further highlighted when she received a Michelin star for Chishuru. The prestigious award is a testament to the quality of her ingredients, the harmony of flavors in her dishes, and her mastery of cooking techniques.
Visitors to Chishuru rave about the restaurant’s lunch menu, which features innovative dishes like fermented crispy rice cake with smoky mushrooms, creamy corn cake with coconut sauce, and grilled breadfruit prepared in various ways. Desserts like fonio-infused ice cream with carob custard and peanut praline have also received high praise.
Food critics have lauded Bakare’s menu for its bold flavors and unique combinations. Jay Rayner described it as “full of heat, vigour, and zest,” while Jimi Famurewa praised Bakare’s talent for creating dishes that ignite the palate with unexpected flavors and heat.
Chishuru, which means “to eat silently,” has become synonymous with exceptional West African cuisine. Bakare’s achievement as the UK’s first black female Michelin-starred chef is a testament to her talent, dedication, and unwavering passion for food.
In her own words, Bakare sees herself at the forefront of West African food, and she remains committed to continuing to innovate and elevate the culinary scene. As an independent restaurateur and chef, she embraces the freedom to create her own rules and pave her own path in the culinary world.