At the age of 18 and with only £200 in his pocket, Senegal-born Modou Diagne moved to Scotland from Spain to seek an opportunity.
Now, seven years on from sleeping rough and living in a shelter while looking for work, he’s set to take the helm of one of Glasgow’s most popular restaurants.
He’ll be running the multi-award winning 111 by Nico, which will be renamed 111 by Modou, having impressed chef Nico Simeone and worked his way up from first joining as a kitchen porter.
Nico met and hired Modou in June 2014. Within two months he noticed his new recruit had an unbelievable work ethic, a healthy respect and a positive attitude towards work.
Under Nico, he learned the fundamentals of kitchen hygiene, basic food ingredients, and how to hold a knife before developing more complex skills and eventually the basics of cooking.
Modou was able to save enough money working at 111 to move into a hostel and get off the streets.
Working with Nico over the years, Modou has played an intrinsic role in the 111 by Nico story and its success.
He helped with the launch of previous menus such as the ‘Trust’ and ‘Total Trust’ concepts, and spearheaded the recently introduced and hugely popular 10-Course Tasting Menu.
Climbing up the ranks from Kitchen Porter to Head Chef, Modou’s journey has now led to him taking over the restaurant and launching his own brand.
“The time feels right, for both myself and Modou,” said Nico. “This has been a personal dream of mine since meeting Modou in 2014, not only getting to know him as a close colleague, but he has become like family to me.
“Six by Nico is going from strength to strength, and as such there are increasing requirements for my energy to continue that development. There is no one I trust more to hand the reins to than Modou.
“This is Modou’s time to write his own story in the industry, and I will always be there to offer guidance and support when he needs it. Modou is ready to begin his next challenge so as one chapter comes to an end for me at 111, another opens for Modou – and I am really excited about it!”
111 by Modou will open on Friday April 3, having undergone refurbishment and rebranding.
Modou said: “This opportunity is completely life changing for myself and my family back home. Having moved here in 2013, I would never have dreamed that I would be in this position 7 years later
“My hard work has paid off but more so, this is a really special to me as Nico is like a brother. I am more than ready for this next chapter at 111 and I look forward to showing everyone in the industry what myself and my team can do here at 111 by Modou.”
Bookings are now available at www.111bymodou.co.uk