Appetite for More: Meet the superstar chefs elevating London’s restaurant scene with their new launches
As new restaurants put these extraordinary chefs at the heart of the menu, London’s already outstanding dining scene is set to become even more remarkable
The UK capital has long reflected its rich multicultural identity through the diversity of its dining scene, with the city’s long-time culinary favourites and gastronomic institutions continually being joined by exciting new places to eat. This year in particular sees a number of world-renowned chefs make their London debut. Mauro Colagreco of the World’s Best Restaurant 2019, Mirazur, is opening not one, but three restaurants at the soon-to-open Raffles London at the OWO; Alberto Landgraf of two-Michelin-starred Oteque in Rio de Janeiro opened Bossa beneath London’s Brazilian consulate in Vere Street on 24 May; and prolific French chef Yannick Alléno is launching Pavyllon London at Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane in July. In Autumn, the new Mandarin Oriental Mayfair will see Michelin-starred Korean chef Akira Back open a restaurant and overseeing the hotel’s other dining concepts.
Other chefs making an impression in 2023 include Sri Lankan chef, cookbook author and TV personality Cynthia Shanmugalingam, who recently opened Rambutan at Borough Market; and Chinese-Canadian chef Jeremy Chan who, along with his co-founder, Nigerian-born Iré Hassan-Odukale, just launched the new Strand site of the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Ikoyi.
Together, these forthcoming and new-to-open restaurants are adding to the excitement of London’s diverse food scene throughout the year. Some of the chefs making an impact on the city’s dining scene in 2023 give us their insight into what they’re bringing to the table.
“We are creating an ecosystem with different menu offerings and experiences all under one roof,” says Akira Back.
Earlier this year, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced that the Korean-born chef and restaurateur would make his UK debut by collaborating with the Mandarin Oriental Mayfair on all of the dining concepts throughout the soon-to-open hotel.
“Whether it be at the signature Akira Back restaurant, ultra-fine dining chef experience in Dosa, late night drinks in ABar lounge or champagne on ABar rooftop with views of Mayfair, there is something for everyone and at all times of the day,” he says.
At the heart of the hotel, the chef’s all-day eponymous restaurant, Akira Back, will serve dishes inspired by his Korean heritage, modern interpretation of Japanese cuisine and influence taken from international travels.
Some of the chef’s greatest hits, such as AB Tuna Pizza featuring umami aioli with ponzu sauce, tuna sashimi, micro shiso and white truffle oil, will be offered in a dining room distinguished by its triple-height sky roof and circular marble staircase leading into space where the décor is inspired by the elements of earth, wind and water.
“I have always loved the London dining scene,” he says. “It is a city that has a distinctive energy and ambiance while being at the forefront of new trends. I am so excited to be a part of this and create something new.”
© Maureen M. Evans
Since first opening in 2017, the restaurant of school friends Nigeran-born Iré Hassan-Odukale and Chinese-Canadian chef Jeremy Chan – Ikoyi – has garnered two Michelin stars and earned a place on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
In December 2022, having outgrown the original location at St James’s, the restaurant reopened in a new and larger space at 180 The Strand. At this new address – featuring the interior design of renowned Danish architect and designer David Thulstrup – the two friends aim to push Ikoyi to the next level.
The menu is curated as a personal expression of British micro-seasonality through the chef’s lens of spice and bold heat.
“Ikoyi at 180 The Strand is a completely new restaurant,” says Chan. “The aesthetic is different. We have a new style of service and we are using new cooking techniques. The menu is longer – 22 servings in the evening, including snacks and petits fours.
“The intention behind every dish is deliciousness, but I want guests to feel the intensity and that can push people in different directions. Spice is part of our weaponry. It’s not just a quick hit of chilli; it has a rounded depth to it. It gives you that warm, comforting feeling. That’s what is unique about Ikoyi.”
This March also saw the launch of Rambutan, the debut restaurant of Cynthia Shanmugalingam, in London’s historic Borough Market. This restaurant is inspired by Sri Lankan cooking, focusing in particular on the food of the chef’s ancestral home, the ancient Tamil region in the North of the island, and it is the product of years of cooking and collecting recipes from family members and chefs who have shared their culinary secrets.
Ultimately, Rambutan presents a fusion of both old and new recipes, naturally using ingredients from Borough Market as well as Sri Lanka, to make heritage dishes with an immigrant twist.
“We’re cooking on fire, the way my Tamil aunties do in Sri Lankan village cooking, so the rotis will be smoky, the dosas crispy and there will be lots of grilled Jaffna-spiced mutton chops and seafood curries cooked over fire,” she says.
At Rambutan, the chef’s dishes are served in a space pairing bright colours with dark woods, also displaying the work of Sri Lankan artists, and gravitating around a green marble kitchen counter.
“I think London is about to get really buzzy with lots of exciting new openings, many of them by chefs from immigrant backgrounds. It feels like we’re about to see a wave of joyful, big-hearted cooking that celebrates London’s communities.”
The third most Michelin-starred chef in the world will make his London debut this summer with the opening of Pavyllon London at Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane.
Yannick Alléno’s highly anticipated restaurant will bring the chef’s refined neighbourhood dining style to London as it offers a British expression of his signature French dishes.
“Pavyllon will embody the spirit of gastronomy but it won’t be over the top or uncomfortable, it will be a timeless and humble form of luxury,” he says. “I grew up in bistros, cooking or being cooked for, behind countertops and I want to deliver this same experience for my guests.
“The London dining scene is lively, vibrant and home to some really great chefs, many of whom I’m lucky to be friends with,” he continues.
“There is a great amount of mutual respect between professionals on the London dining scene, so when I announced I was opening in London a number of my friends who have restaurants here got in touch to offer advice.
“The people, as well as the city, have this amazing energy. Eating and drinking is a big social thing here in London – there is a massive culture of shared experiences. For 2023, this element of dining and sharing cultural exchanges will only be enhanced.”