December 17, 2019
AN INSPIRING AND CREATIVE JOURNEY
Ikoyi burst onto London’s restaurant scene in 2017, and since then Jeremy Chan have not stopped appearing in the media and being a revelation. Both loved and hated, misunderstood but always impressive, it belongs to that category of restaurant that never fails to surprise.
Ikoyi is not an African restaurant, although the ingredients and context of West African cuisine are its source of inspiration. It has even been called a Nigerian restaurant. It is, however, an odd bird in the world of gastronomy, but then so are the cooks behind this enterprise. Chan and his partner Hassan-Odukale, both in their thirties, both from different universities, did not plan to go into cooking. The former, son of a Chinese lawyer and a Canadian ballet teacher, spent his childhood in England, where he was born, and in Hong Kong and the United States. The latter, born in Lagos (Nigeria), moved to England when he was in secondary school, where he met Chan, and intended following in his father’s footsteps by going into the insurance business. Both began their professional lives in other fields; Chan, who left a budding career in finance, ended up working at Noma, Hibiscus, and at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.
The idea for Ikoyi came about when Hassan-Odukale asked Chan to help him open a contemporary Nigerian restaurant. Faced with total ignorance of a cuisine Chan had never encountered, they embarked on an inspiring journey to Lagos, where a number of ingredients, the context itself and aspiration coalesced into an idea that brought about Ikoyi. Even so, despite not being a Nigerian restaurant, it has been difficult to remove that label.
Precision, quality and creativity visibly flow from the dishes thought up by Jeremy Chan. Some are born of personal passion, such as the one he makes with chicken and other African ingredients and traditional methods.
Their first Michelin star came barely a year after opening. Their star dish ‘Plantain, smoked scotch Bonnet and raspberry’ is an iconic example of their food, and has been posted on Instagram by food critics and diners all over the world. Their ‘blind’ tasting menu (nothing is revealed beforehand) has rapidly made them one of the great promises of their generation, and their eatery one of the most exciting and different on London’s current restaurant scene.