Helen Graham steps away from Bubala to pursue solo projects

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Summers and Graham outside Bubala's Spitalfields restaurant
Summers and Graham outside Bubala's Spitalfields restaurant

Related tags Helen Graham Bubala Middle eastern cuisine Vegetarian cuisine Chef

Helen Graham has stepped down from her role as executive chef of meat-free Middle Eastern restaurant Bubala after five years in order to pursue ‘some exciting solo projects’.

Graham, who launched Bubala’s first restaurant in Spitalfields with founder Marc Summers in the autumn of 2019​ and also oversaw the opening of the group’s second site in Soho last year​, confirmed her departure on Instagram​ over the weekend.

She said: “After five incredible years at Bubala and approximately 300 tonnes of hummus, I've made the tough decision to step away and pursue some exciting solo projects.

“What a ride - from the pop-ups, to our first site in Spitalfields, followed by the second in Soho, the love for these places has been amazing, and I feel very grateful and humbled by it all!”

News of Graham’s replacement is yet to be confirmed.

Summers originally established Bubala, the name coming from a Yiddish term of endearment that is said to often be used by grandparents and roughly translates as ‘sweetheart’, in 2018 as a pop-up when he was working as general manager at popular Middle East and North Africa-inspired grill house Berber & Q in Haggerston.

Graham, who had previously cooked at The Palomar and The Barbary, joined the business early the following year.

Bubala’s first site was considered something of a game changer for veg-focused restaurants in the capital when it launched, and received significant critical acclaim.

The Observer​’s Jay Rayner called it ‘exuberantly vegetarian’​, while Jimi Famurewa of the Evening Standarddescribed it as ‘a rare gift’​.

Speaking to Restaurant ​last year​ ahead of Bubala’s Soho opening, Summers said voiced his ambition to grow the business further in the future.

He said: “If you asked me a year ago, I wouldn’t have thought there was any chance of us opening a second site in the near future. The pandemic has taught us that we don’t know what’s going to happen.

“I do see us being able to offer more in the future, though, We’re still a relatively young brand, and there’s much time for new concepts down the road.”

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