Ravinder Bhogal, a former beauty journalist and amateur cook who was discovered by chef Gordon Ramsay, plans to open a London restaurant celebrating her heritage as the daughter of an Indian family, born in Nairobi and raised in London.
Bhogal plans to offer an eclectic menu of dishes from Britain, East Africa, the Middle East and Asia when she opens Jikoni in Marylebone. The menu will feature unusual Scotch eggs, including quail with banana ketchup and pickled cucumber, along with dishes such as spicy shepherd's pie and a changing daily rice plate of curries from around the world.
Bhogal rose to prominence after Ramsay picked her as the UK's new Fanny Cradock - a veteran television chef - on his Channel 4 show The F Word. She went on to publish an award-winning cookbook Cook in Boots, and to host her own TV series, Ravinder's Kitchen.
"The key thing for the restaurant is the preservation and celebration of the maternal heritage of recipes, not just from my own mother but from women wherever I've traveled," Bhogal said. "I've cooked with women who welcomed me into their homes and taught me recipes and I want to celebrate that legacy and that generosity.
"I was born into the Sikh faith and one of the most important tenets is sewa, which means service to your community. One way this is practiced is through the langar, a free communal meal cooked by volunteers at the gurdawara, or temple, served three times a day to everyone, regardless of sex, caste or creed.
"It delights me to sometimes see Polish builders at my local temple eating breakfast. I love the idea that communally shared food brings diverse communities together."
Bhogal has been hosting pop-up restaurants for five years in preparation for Jikoni, for which she has partnered with the restaurateur Ratnesh Bagdai. Bagdai has worked in hospitality for more than 20 years, including with Wolseley owners Chris Corbin and Jeremy King when they were at Caprice Holdings and with chef Mark Hix.
Jikoni, "kitchen" in Swahili, is scheduled to open on Blandford Street in September.
News by Bloomberg, edited by Hospitality Ireland