Meet UK’s First Black Female Chef Recipient of the Coveted Michelin Star, Adejoke Bakare

Winning awards has not always been the sole purpose for many international acclaimed chefs if you ask, but the excellence in culinary skills as well as being chef to winning the highly coveted Michelin Star award in 2024, Nigeria’s Adejoke Bakare is putting the national colours on world map of cooking pedigree.

Moving to the United Kingdom [UK] after finishing her university studies, Adejoke blew the minds of judges away with her unique culinary skills cooking West African dishes when she entered the Brixton Kitchen tournament as an amateur and winning it. She had before then only cooked for friends and family all with love at heart.

From watching her maternal grandmother cook traditional South Western Nigerian delicacy, Dodo Ikire [famous with the Ikire region in Osun State, Nigeria], Adejoke rose to find herself at the front row of London’s West African Food scene. She has experienced a variety of food expositions as her mother is from the Western part of the country while her father is of the Igbo origin. Her food introduction had risen from her natural love for cooking which is often described as chore where she comes from.

A string of working in the health, property and safety sectors to find social acceptance and economic stability never deterred the Micro-Biology studying Axejoke from cooking as her circle of friends urged her to establish a supper club. She continued to call up friends and family at the weekends. Back then it was just a hobby, or so she and her encouragers thought.

The supper club was not a bad idea to Adejoke and she tested the waters. The noise, buzz of the eat outs she organised fuelled some enthusiasm. In 2016, supper clubs had just began to emerge and people were patronising the eat-outs encouragingly. She started off at Well Street Kitchen in Hackney, friends and family attended and also lending a helping hand all the way. Being a bit skeptical, she wanted to thread softly. She opted for street food despite the success of the supper club.

She doubted if there would success in the street food concept and her emerging interest in being a full time food vendor until a friend showed her a food competition early 2019. It was the Brixton Kitche competition. The catevory was of the amateur sectuon coming with a prize money of a six-month restaurant residency in Brixton Village. Her application was more of a lounge attempt but the judges reached out to her to come prove her mettle.

The task was to cook a meal but Joke would go on to make a starter, snack, main and drinks to accompany. For her it was just like a normal cook-out for family and families, as usual. The full course meal was one dish. She infused her West African flavours in her meals throughout the competition and was declared winner by April, 2019. Her mentor, Jackson Boxer described her as a force being a cokk and host. This win further strengthened her resolve as a cook.

Without any formal training in the professional kitchen business, a tough uncertainty due to Covid pandemic, new restaurant owner, Joke finally opened the Chishuru doors in Brixton Village by 2020. People, even Brits, came in to experience her West African cookery.

Now, Adejoke Bakare, the Nigerian-born chef based in the UK, has carved her name in history as the UK’s first black female chef to receive a Michelin star, barely six months after securing her permanent spot in London’s Fitzrovia. Chishuru met the Michelin star’s criteria with distinction, awarded for ingredient quality, flavour mastery, technique, and the chef’s personality expressed through their cuisine.