William Chilila, previously head chef of Akoko restaurant in London's Fitzrovia, has confirmed to The Caterer that he has left the restaurant with a view to pursuing new interests.
Akoko, which opened on 8 October 2020, is owned by investor Aji Akokomi. The restaurant is known for its West African cuisine, and says that it "pays homage to the country's culinary heritage by using recipes passed down through generations and traditional cooking techniques of smoking, curing and fermenting".
The restaurant was plagued by many delays prior to opening, with an original opening date of 2019.
Chilila, who made it to the semi-finals of BBC One's MasterChef: The Professionals in 2018, told The Caterer: "I left the restaurant on 24 December 2020 and it was a mutual decision in the end.
"I'm currently working on a new joint project with two well known names in the industry and we will soon be announcing our next steps.
"West African cuisine is my passion and I'd love to be able to deliver it to a wider audience."
The Zambian-born chef was taken under the wing of Igor Tymchyshyn, now chef-patron of D&D's Orrery in Marylebone, London, during his second year at Westminster Kingsway College. He then spent 10 years at the Orrery with some time at Galvin at Windows, as well as stages at Noma in Copenhagen and 11 Madison Park in New York.
Chilila went on to work alongside chef Ben Murphy at the Woodford in north-east London before returning to the D&D group at the Almeida in Islington, now run as Radici by chef-patron Francesco Mazzei, before appearing in MasterChef at the end of 2017 and into 2018.
Chilila added: "My Akoko journey didn't turn out how I'd planned it, and now I just want to find my new path and start the next challenge and adventure."
A statement from Akoko said: "Although we've parted ways with Will we wish him the best of luck in whatever steps he decides to take next. To help us reach our goals we have sought to obtain some incredible new talent with a plethora of experience at every level. Theo Clench, previously of Portland, is here as culinary director to work alongside Aji and oversee the transition as we continue to expand and elevate our menu. Utilising founder Aji Akokomi's passion and understanding of West African cuisine, our team have drawn from his knowledge as they continue to create some of our most exciting dishes yet."
Image by: Julian Georgewww.madebyhumans.london
You need to be a premium member to view this. Subscribe from just 99p per week.
Already subscribed? Log In