How Kenyan-Born Journalist Opened High-End London Restaurant

  • A file image of Jikoni Restaurant in London, UK.
    A file image of Jikoni Restaurant in London, UK.
    Marie Claire UK
  • Kenyan-born Journalist Ravinder Bhogal has shattered glass ceiling after she founded a high-end restaurant in London despite moving to the United Kingdom as an immigrant.

    In an interview with Business Insider, the celebrated food journalist-turned-chef revealed that her passion for food was born while she lived in Kenya.

    She recalled that in the seven years she lived in the country, she cooked small meals for her family and developed passion for the trade at a tender age.

    Ravinder Bhogal, founder of Jikoni Restaurant in UK, photographed for The Guardian in December 2020.
    Ravinder Bhogal, founder of Jikoni Restaurant in UK, photographed for The Guardian in December 2020.
    The Guardian

    When she turned 7, her family immigrated to the United Kingdom. When she hit her 20s, she secured a job as a writer in a beauty magazine in London known as More.

    Her big break happened in 2007 when she enrolled for a food competition on a UK TV network and beat 9,000 other women for the top price.

    Her career then grew eventful after she began receiving phone calls from agents and clients. She even signed a book deal with Harper Collins as a result.

    "My first book Cook in Boots was published the following year and won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award UK's best first cookbook.

    "My book deal meant I was financially secure enough to leave my role at the magazine. I had worked hard to become a beauty writer. I had interned at magazines, did a post-grad in journalism, and worked my way up, but food was where my heart lay, and now I had a chance to do it," she told the outlet.

    She took the leap and abandoned her journalism career for a full-time chef and player in the UK food world.

    Bhogal noted that she would later be invited to cook meals in popular restaurants and was at some point hired to lend her services at Michelin-star chef Brett Graham's birthday party. Graham is a famous chef who started his career aged 15 years in Australia.

    After gathering enough experience, the Kenyan-born-foodie was challenged by her colleagues to set up her own eatery and she settled for the high-end neighbourhood of Marylebone where she has been operating for five years now.

    "In 2016, I opened Jikoni in Marylebone, one of the most exclusive parts of London.

    "Jikoni is an extension of my home. I wanted to create a menu that represented my experience as an immigrant in London," she added.

    According to Jikoni restaurant's website, the establishment's menu is inspired by the founder's experience as an immigrant.

    "Our food at the restaurant is inspired by immigrant cuisine and the rich, shared flavours and cultures across parts of South Asia & the Far East, the Middle East, East Africa and Britain," reads the statement.

    The menu has exotic foods such as Avocado, Sambal and Yuzu Tarts, Lime Pickle, Potato and Montgomery Cheddar Puffs, Beetroot and Kefir Borani as well as Lemon Vermicelli Upma.

    One of the meals served at Jikoni Restaurants in London, UK.
    One of the meals served at Jikoni Restaurants in London, UK.
    Jikoni Restaurant