Published 20 June 2022
Catch up on the latest industry news stories of the week from the CODE Bulletin
Co-founders Anthony Douglas Chuka and Abdul Malik Abubakar describe their new Knightsbridge restaurant as a ‘love letter to West African cuisine’, explaining that Isibani is ‘an ode to our mom’s Ibo heritage and her love for fine dining with an African twist.’ Read more.
This October, the Sri Lankan chef Cynthia Shanmugalingam will open her debut restaurant, Rambutan, in Borough Market. Heavily inspired by Cynthia’s Tamil roots and her time exploring and cooking in her homeland, the 60-cover, two-storey restaurant will focus on regional dishes typically found in the north of the country, and has been designed in the post-colonial style of Sri Lanka’s most famous female architect, Minnette de Silva. Cynthia will use produce sourced from the market, pork from regenerative farmers at Gothelney Farm in Somerset, mutton from Philip Warren in Cornwall, and grains from Sri Lanka. More on the menu and chef.
The excellent Pino restaurant in High Street Kensington closed permanently last week due to ‘rising costs’. The owner James Chiavarini, who also runs the much-loved Il Portico, one of the oldest family run Italians in London, said the hospitality industry is being ‘squeezed’. He told CODE: ‘We’re the same as any other independent restaurant I guess – we were being squeezed between rising costs and not enough sales. ‘I’m not taking it personally, and I think it’s going to be a bloodbath out there this year’. Chavarini’s Il Portico remains. If you’ve not been in a while, go. There are few, if any, Italian restaurants better in London.
A new ‘fire-focused’ Levantine restaurant will open in Kensington on June 20. Pascor is the latest concept from Tomer Amedi, co-founder and former head chef at The Palomar, and Tati Rurenko. It will serve ‘playful cocktails, explorative wines by the glass, and Levantine small plates’. The restaurant will launch with dishes including challah with whipped za’atar butter and smoked tahini; samneh butter scallops with charred leek cream and merguez gremolata; kombu-wrapped halibut; and a duck breast salad of cucumber, pickled carrot, coriander and dukkah. Tati said: ‘Everybody needs to have their comfort place, where they know normal life can be put on pause for a few hours and life can be lived without a care in the world – somewhere where others will look after you, they will make you laugh, smile, feed you well and make sure you are having a great time.’
Rockfish restaurants will stop serving cod next month due to supply chain disruption and soaring prices. Founder Mitch Tonks told CODE demand for the white fish is ‘driving up costs’; a 35 per cent ‘tax’ on imported Russian whitefish is imminent. The chef said he has only ever bought the ‘best quality MSC cod’ from Iceland and Norway but has taken the ‘commercial decision’ to keep menu prices in his nine Rockfish restaurants affordable. ‘Prices are getting higher and higher,’ he said. ‘Cod prices have nearly trebled…’ Read more.
Cornwall-based chef Paul Ainsworth and Yorkshire’s Tommy Banks have launched an employee exchange programme between their respective restaurant groups. Team members from both businesses – whether front or back of house, office or operations – are now able to swap companies for a week to gain experience in a different setting. The scheme launched this month and has already seen three exchanges take place. Another seven are scheduled this year. Every visit includes accommodation and visits to suppliers. Tommy said: ‘Stage programmes are established for chefs but lacking for front of house and other roles. We want to change this and allow anyone within our business the opportunity to be able to join the Ainsworth Collection. We have so much to learn from them and there are so many fantastic suppliers to visit in Cornwall.’ Paul added: ‘You never stop learning in hospitality but we want to fast track this’.
Chef Marc Wilkinson will close his Michelin-starred restaurant Fraiche in Oxton, Merseyside, after 18 years as he prepares for ‘a change in direction’. Wilkinson announced the news on Facebook and said all current bookings will be honoured but no new reservations will be taken. ‘The time has now come for me to step away from the restaurant side of Fraiche and give myself some much-needed time and space to explore other projects, ideas and interests….’ he wrote. ‘Eighteen years is a long time in one place and the intensity, drive and focus required to keep creating, developing and evolving Fraiche has been exciting but all-consuming, not to mention physically and mentally draining. I am immensely proud of everything I have achieved at Fraiche over the years and feel incredibly lucky to have had this opportunity to put Merseyside proudly on the culinary map.’ The restaurant will close in September.