National Restaurant Awards 2024: Chef of the Year shortlist

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National Restaurant Awards 2024: Chef of the Year shortlist

Related tags Tomos Parry Adejoké ‘Joké’ Bakare Brett Graham Claude bosi Stuart Ralston Aktar Islam

Six chefs at the top of their game have made this year's shortlist at the National Restaurant Awards.

Joké Bakare

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Image: Harriet Langford

Chishuru chef Adekoké Bakare made waves in Brixton Market thanks to her inventive, authentic and experimental West African cooking. But a recent move to Fitzrovia has seen her refine her culinary approach and bring her brilliantly original cooking to a wider audience. It also attracted Michelin’s attention, with the restaurant achieving its first Michelin star earlier this year. Bakare is the first UK-based black female chef to run a Michelin-starred restaurant. Her biggest challenge now? Keeping up with the huge demand for her unassuming Great Titchfield Street restaurant. 

Claude Bosi 

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Claude Bosi has had a good run of things of late with his Brooklands restaurant at The Peninsula London winning two Michelin stars straight off the bat and his more casual and personal Josephine restaurant proving to be a big hit with its rustic, bouchon-inspired dishes. The Lyon-born chef is now a force to be reckoned with running a total of five London restaurants (he’s also rumoured to be working on another project in the capital). As his success with Michelin demonstrates, Bosi has not taken his eye off the ball as his empire has swelled but the Frenchman appears to have relaxed a little in recent years. London’s restaurant scene is all the better for it.     

Brett Graham

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Brett Graham’s Notting Hill flagship The Ledbury closed as a result of the pandemic but made a surprise return in 2022, bounding back onto London’s restaurant scene with a new look and an altogether more ambitious approach. Just a few years later, the team’s considerable efforts have been rewarded with a third Michelin star. The Australia-born Graham - who is also behind The Harwood Arms in Fulham - remains one of the hardest working chefs in the industry. Not only does he continue to clock a serious amount of hours behind the pass at The Ledbury, he is also involved in a number of progressive farming initiatives meaning that his culinary reach now extends well beyond his own venues.

Aktar Islam

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Promoted from one to two Michelin stars earlier this year, Birmingham’s Opheem is a landmark restaurant that applies a creative, produce-led approach to Indian cuisine. What makes the Jewellery Quarter venture’s success even more remarkable is that its chef patron has no high-end training having cut his teeth in traditional curry houses. On top of all this, Islam is an increasingly vocal advocate for the industry, using his platform to highlight key issues including staffing woes and the unfair tax burden that’s making it increasingly difficult for ambitious restaurants such as his to generate a return.  

Tomos Parry 

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Tomos Parry has carved out a niche by combining his Welsh heritage with his love of Spanish cuisine and cooking over open fire. With the help of Ben Chapman and Brian Hannon, he has built what can now safely be called a mini empire with a duo of Brat restaurants in east London and now Mountain in Soho. On the site of a former burger chain restaurant, the latter is an ambitious - one could even say risky - project that sees Parry make a play for marginally more casual territory while staying true to his culinary approach. But perhaps predictably given the trio’s Super 8 Restaurants group can’t seem to put a foot wrong (it now has four restaurants on the list) Mountain has been an unequivocal success. 

Stuart Ralston 

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Having already made his mark on Edinburgh’s dining scene with Aizle and the more casual Noto and Tipo, Stuart Ralston switched things up at the tail end of last year by launching his most ambitious restaurant to date. In the space that was once home to 21212, Lyla replaces Aizle as the group’s flagship and is now his focus (he rarely misses a service). Billed by the chef as ‘unapologetically fine dining’, Lyla offers a fish-focused menu and has already caused a major stir in the city with its impressive cookery and slick service. Ralston has thrown down the culinary gauntlet with his latest opening, creating what is arguably the Scottish capital’s most ambitious restaurant. 

The Chef of the Year award is sponsored by Seven Rooms.​ The winner will be announced at the National Restaurant Awards, being held at Magazine in London on 10 June.

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