Adejoké Bakare harbored a lifelong passion for cooking. During the 1990s, she moved to the United Kingdom to pursue a degree in microbiology at university. After various positions in health and safety, followed by a role at a property management company, she finally realized her culinary aspirations. Her journey in the culinary world commenced with a supper club, initially organized for her friends’ encouragement.
Talking about how she started, she told Great British Chefs ‘My friends all knew that I’d always wanted to cook. I’d always call them up at the weekends and invite them over for a meal. For me, it was all about that joy of feeding people, the noise and the buzz of it all. They’d always say, ‘oh you should do this for a living’ and so when supper clubs started to be a big thing in around 2016, I thought I’d give it a try. My very first one was at Well Street Kitchen in Hackney and it was pretty much all friends and family there, with everyone helping out. The response was great but I was worried it might just be a case of people being nice, so I decided it wasn’t for me.’
With the success of the supper clubs, Adejoké applied for a Brixton Kitchen competition in 2019. The competition had a category open to amateurs, with a prize of a six-month restaurant residency in Brixton Village. With her skills and passion, she advanced to the final stage, impressing the panel with her cookery. Her approach was a unique blend of different West African flavours, inspired by a wide variety of different food influences and her childhood experiences – growing up in northern Nigeria with a Yoruba mother and an Igbo father.
In April of that year, she was announced as the winner of the competition, with mentor Jackson Boxer describing her as ‘completely compelling as a cook and a host’. Adejoké’s culinary journey reached a milestone in 2020 when she opened her restaurant, ‘Chishuru,’ in Brixton Village, which she later relocated to a larger and permanent site in Fitzrovia in September 2023. In 2023, she was shortlisted in the Chef to Watch category at the National Restaurant Award.
From the little girl who watched her grandmother make Nigerian street food such as dodo ikire, to running a supper club, to her West End restaurant that has helped bring West African cooking into the mainstream, the self-taught chef, Adejoké Bakare has now won a Michelin star. She becomes the first black female Michelin-starred chef in the UK and the second black female Michelin-starred chef in the world.
In her reaction to the British daily newspaper, Guardian, Adejoké said her achievement felt “quite surreal”. “It hasn’t sunk in yet,” she remarked. “Until this morning I was just focused on enjoying the accolade itself, which I’m hugely honoured by. But seeing reactions on social media today, I’m starting to feel a weight of responsibility on my shoulders too, it’s lovely.”
Congratulations to Adejoké Bakare.