Jeremy Chan, the creative mind behind the two-Michelin-star restaurant Igoi at 180 Strand in London, is all set to share his life story with his first cookbook, „Igoi: A Journey Through Bold Heat with Recipes”.
In the book, the half-Chinese, half-Canadian chef offers an intimate look at his culinary adventure and journey to open and operate Igoi with his childhood friend and now business partner, Iré Hassan-Odukale.
Some 82 recipes are included in the cookbook, showcasing Chan’s mastery of the freshest local produce the British Isles has to offer, with bold contributions from West Africa and beyond.
But Chen admits that replicating these recipes at home is „almost impossible” because „cooking is not just about following a recipe. It’s a feeling, and more than a recipe. All the delicate touches are there, and they’re intricate and very personal.”
„My goal is not for people to recreate them. It’s not a recipe book for people to cook at home. The book is about capturing a feeling, and I want people to read the recipes, look at the food, read the article and be inspired by a certain aspect of it,” she adds.
„For example, like a dish with scallops. I talked about the texture of the scallops when they were very fresh. Maybe someone will read that article and find the best scallops to figure out what I mean about the texture of the scallops. I think if a reader can do that, They learned more about cooking,” he explains.
In a way the cooking style depicted in the book and implemented in Ikoyi reflects Chan’s own multicultural, cross-continental upbringing, and at the core, it is about defying expectations and creating new identities.
A Princeton graduate, Chan worked as an analyst in Madrid before deciding to become a chef. After years of dealing with landlords while doing pop-ups and catering gigs around London, Igoi finally opened in 2017 on a narrow side street in St James’s Market.
Billed as a West African-inspired restaurant, it served dishes that won praise from food critics but angered people from the region.
Chan writes in the book, „One of the kind notes left by our esteemed guests was that we should get rid of 'that Chinese chef’ and hire a real African chef, and that we served them rotten leftovers.”
Fortunately, there is no shortage of authentic African restaurants in London, and Ikoyi has finally earned its place in the fine dining circle. It was awarded its first Michelin star in 2019, and received an additional star two years later. With a delicious dinner menu priced at £300, the restaurant now requires bookings a month in advance.
The sub-Saharan association – most notable for his use of local ingredients such as fermented locust beans, tiger nuts and bananas – initially set Ikoyi apart on London’s culinary scene, and Chan says his exploration of spice and umami is no longer taboo. Geographical boundaries.
„If you compare Igoi to a fashion brand,” Chan says of what Igoi stands for now, „the fashion brand has a style and ethos that combines the founder and its core values, aesthetic style and tailoring, tailoring. And take a moment. The same with my restaurant. It’s A specific perspective that I’ve developed. It’s stylistic, artistic, and personal, and it has a set of rules that are so unique to me that they don’t need to be explained.
„I don’t look at things like, oh, this is a Chinese ingredient, or this is a Nigerian ingredient. I think of things as abstract objects, and I put them through the filter of my restaurant. That’s how I come up with something original, pure and unique,” he adds.
The fashion world has clearly recognized Ikoyi, comparing him to a fashion brand. Louis Vuitton commissioned Chan to open a pop-up restaurant at its maison in Seoul, where he created a menu inspired by the French luxury brand’s „Art of Travel” ethos, while capturing the spirit of Korean flavors, seasonality and ingredients.
For lunch, he served fatty tuna toast and wild Korean green onions, Korean beef green goddess salad dressing and crispy chili, and sugar-cured shrimp and black olive rice. The dinner menu includes tartlet with namul, a classic Korean vegetable side dish, ginseng crème caramel with caviar and saffron, as well as confit cabbage and white horn.
„It’s a really cool thing because I didn’t grow up in Korea. I’ve never lived there. I’ve never really eaten Korean food. But I think it’s proven my ability, which is knowing what people want, and distilling these ideas, feelings and tastes into my own creative output,” says Chan.
After the pop-up, Chan expressed his desire to „regroup and refocus in London” at his restaurant, which moved from the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly to the quieter and more creative Strand in January. The space was designed by Danish architect and designer David Dulstrup.
„I think our focus in the next year will be mainly on the restaurant. The beauty of Ikoyi is that it is very exciting, dynamic, intense, very focused and focused, and it requires my maximum attention and focus with my team. Maybe in the future I will do more collaborations with brands. Will, but I’m not rushing into it,” he says.
Since the opening of members’ club 180 House in 2020, the area near 180 Strand has rapidly grown into a trendy hangout for the fashion and creative community. The offices of Dazed Media and Karla Otto are also located in the building.
Chan says he can easily tell fashion people apart from regular fine dining, especially during previous catering services for brands such as Paul Smith, Prada and Alexander McQueen.
„The fashion crowd is very different. The occasion is important. They don’t come for the food. My experience with the fashion crowd is that you have to be quick. You have to make a bold statement with food if you want to be noticed,” he says, adding that the menu should also be vegetarian or vegan.
„Totalny pionier w sieci. Specjalista od piwa niezależny. Ewangelista popkultury. Miłośnik muzyki. Nieprzepraszający przedsiębiorca”.