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Aji Akokomi’s slick, sophisticated West African spot Akoko has earned plenty of praise in the time it has been open, but in Ayo Adeyemi, it feels as though the restaurant has found a chef that can take it to the next level.
Executive chef Ayo Adeyemi has toured the world in his kitchen career - he’s worked amid the bright lights of Silicon Valley, San Francisco and the Bay Area, and even more recently, ventured as far as Singapore. In the latter, he was head chef of the highly regarded Tippling Club - one of the oldest bars in Singapore, which is widely considered to be one of the best bars and restaurants in Asia, if not the world. That’s not the end of Adeyemi’s impressive CV - he’s also worked with The Fat Duck Group at both The Hind’s Head, and The Fat Duck itself. In securing Adeyemi as the new executive chef, Akoko has pulled off a bit of a coup, bringing in an ultra-talented chef who brings his own West African heritage to the role.
Adeyemi’s cooking combines his roots with his fine dining pedigree. At Akoko he champions traditional West African flavours, showing them in their best light by treating them with the utmost respect, as well as precision technique and by using the highest quality ingredients. The idea is to celebrate the distinctions of West African cuisine, whilst also focusing on the touchstones of Akoko’s method - umami, spice, and cooking over fire.
‘I’m delighted to join Akoko and use my experience to bring the ingredients and dishes, which represent my heritage and childhood memories, to the global stage,’ said Adeyemi, on joining the restaurant.
Dishes on Adeyemi’s first menus include snacks like ‘Waina’ - a fermented rice bite served with Oscietra caviar, ‘Otoro’ - a tuna croustade with scotch bonnet kani, and ‘Asun’ - smoked goat with mustard seeds and burnt cucumber. He also mixes things up with a new take on jollof rice - a brave move, perhaps - and makes exciting use of native West African ingredients, like aridan fruit, which he combines in a dessert with uda ice cream. From reading the menu alone, this looks like one of the more intriguing moves on the London restaurant merry-go-round - one that could catapult Akoko into the high echelons of London's restaurant landscape.