Msterchef star heads up kitchen in new West African restaurant

Opening on 8 October on Berners Street in Fitzrovia, Akoko will bring Londoners a taste of West Africa, combining local ingredients with vivid aromas and authentic spices.

One of the most anticipated openings of this year, the restaurant will offer a unique window on the still relatively unknown cuisine of West Africa in a stylish and relaxed setting.

Founder, British Nigerian Aji Akokomi has taken inspiration from family recipes and his travels across West Africa. Working with Head Chef and MasterChef: The Professionals finalist, JM Chilila (pictured), the team will pay homage to the country's culinary heritage by using recipes passed down through generations and traditional cooking techniques of smoking, curing and fermenting to maximise the flavours and textures of the ingredients.

Chilila’s CV includes nearly a decade at London restaurant Orrery, as well as stints at Galvin at Windows and The Langham.

Akoko, which translates to ‘time’ and also ’the first’ in Yoruba, will take Londoners on a journey that celebrates the richness, vibrancy and diversity of the Saharan region in a progressive and elevated way.

The team will showcase a forward-thinking menu combining high quality produce from African and British suppliers, with an emphasis on seasonality and sustainability. The menu will include well-loved West African classics such as Smoked goat served with jollof rice, Pounded Yam with native lobster egusi, Beef suya, Quail yassa as well as desserts including Goat milk ice cream with uda burnt cream and caramelised Ghanaian cocoa butter.

The wine list has been developed by top sommeliers, Honey Spencer (previously of Sager & Wilde, Noma Mexico and Australia and Nuala) and her business partner Ania Smelskaya (Silo) with an emphasis on organic and sustainable wines.