Ikoyi named One to Watch for 2021 by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants
It’s that time of year again when the hospitality industry waits with bated breath for the top ranked restaurants in the world to be given long-anticipated recognition at the iconic 50 Best Awards. In an exciting revelation, it has been announced that London’s Ikoyi will be presented with the American Express One to Watch trophy at this year’s awards ceremony in Antwerp, Flanders on 5th October. This cosmopolitan and contemporary restaurant is in constant evolution, and builds its own spice-based cuisine around British micro-seasonality. Co founders and childhood friends Chef Jeremy Chan and Restaurant Director Iré Hassan-Odukale will be there to accept the revered accolade, which recognises a restaurant considered a rising star on an international level.
Since opening in 2017, Ikoyi has distinguished itself for its bold use of flavour, introducing new and original ingredient combinations and presenting them with indefinable style. Chan and Hassan-Odukale have made it their mission to source superlative local produce and serve it in its optimal state. The foundation of their dishes is a vast collection of global spices with a focus on sub-Saharan West Africa, which have been meticulously sourced over the past few years, resulting in menus which surprise the senses with a balance of heat and umami. The restaurant is situated in the heart of St James’s Market, two minutes’ walk from London’s famous Piccadilly Circus.
A chance conversation with friend and now-business partner Hassan-Odukale ignited a spark around the possibilities of African-inspired food. A period of intensive research ensued and what emerged was a series of new plates with unique ﬂavour proﬁles and a desire to forge a fresh culinary narrative. Nigerian-born Hassan-Odukale left a corporate background in insurance to co-launch Ikoyi. They both liked the abstract quality of the name, as it represented the starting point of a cuisine totally unique to themselves.
William Drew, Director of Content for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, explains why the restaurant has earnt this award: “At Ikoyi, Jeremy and Iré have created that rare thing in the restaurant world: an experience that defies characterisation. It is one of the most exciting restaurants to have opened in recent years, with an impressive commitment to flavour and produce. We are delighted to name Ikoyi as the winner of the American Express One to Watch Award 2021.”
Chef Jeremy Chan expresses his delight at the news: “We are extremely humbled by the recognition on the global stage and proud of our small, hard-working team. We are also grateful to our producers without whom this success would not be possible.”
“American Express and Resy have been fans of Ikoyi since it opened and are proud to count it as a valued restaurant partner,” said Hannah Kelly, Vice President of American Express Dining Access & Benefits. “This award underscores its excellence and we join The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in recognising Ikoyi as an international culinary destination.”
The award seeks to recognise and celebrate outstanding emerging culinary talent and fresh experiences. Previous winners have included Lido 84, from Gardone Riviera, Ital, in 2019; SingleThread, California, US in 2018; Disfrutar, Barcelona, Spain in 2017 and Den, Tokyo, Japan in 2016.
50 Best announced the list of restaurants ranked from 51st to 100th in the annual vote on 23rd September, ahead of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants being announced on 5th October. Presenting the awards this year will be British pastry chef Ravneet Gill, who mastered her craft in the pastry sections of London restaurant kitchens such as St John, Black Axe Mangal and Wild by Tart. Her bestselling debut baking bible, A Pastry Chef’s Guide, was published in 2020. She was a judge on the 2020 series of the British television baking show Junior Bake Off, a spin-off of the wildly popular The Great British Bake Off.
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