MasterChef finalist crowdfunds £50k to open Japanese retaurant

MasterChef Andrew Kojima to open Koj Cheltenham

MasterChef finalist Andrew Kojima has hit his £50,000 crowdfunding target to open his first permanent restaurant in Cheltenham.

Over 270 people helped the chef raise almost £55,000 in a campaign that was endorsed by chefs Michel Roux Jr, Tom Kerridge and Tom Herbert.

Kojima will use the funding to open a casual Japanese restaurant, Koj, serving a mix of ramen, poke bowls and hirata buns.

“I am incredibly grateful for the generous support that our backers have shown us,” says Koj.

“Authentic Japanese food is a loose term – the secret has been taking foreign influence and creating dishes that are distinctively Japanese.”

Kojima, who is half-Japanese, worked in banking before making it to the finals of the 2012 series of MasterChef.

After the series aired, he undertook stages at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Le Gavroche and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, and has since run a series of Japanese pop-ups across the Cotswolds.

Koj will reopen on 14 March with a special ‘soft opening’ promotion on hirata buns.

Other MasterChef alumni opening restaurants this year include Steven Edwards with Etch in Hove, while Tom Simmons will launch his eponymous restaurant in London.

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