Nico Simeone surprises formerly homeless head chef with 'life-changing' gift of original restaurant 111 By Nico

Top Scottish chef Nico Simeone has surprised his head chef - who worked his way up from kitchen porter - with the "life-changing" gift of his original popular Glasgow restaurant, 111 by Nico.

Published 14th Mar 2020
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

111 by Nico is set to become 111 by Modou as chef Nico Simeone hands the business over to his colleague and close friend, Modou Diagne.

The west end restaurant, Nico's first in the city, will close on Monday 23 March for refurbishment and re-brand to become 111 by Modou from Friday 3 April.

Modou's story

Modou, originally from Senegal, spent much of his younger life in Spain, before travelling to Glasgow by himself when he was 18 and with only £200 in his pocket to look for opportunities.

He slept rough for ten days until he found refuge in a Shelter charity church that helps the homeless before eventually finding permanent shelter.

After a year continuously applying for jobs with no success due to very poor English, he came across a recruitment advert Nico had posted online in 2014 for a kitchen porter at 111 by Nico.

Nico met and hired Moodu and within two months he noticed Modou had an unbelievable work ethic, a healthy respect and a positive attitude towards work.

Nico began to teach him the fundamentals of kitchen hygiene, to understand basic food ingredients, how to hold a knife, develop 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.

Modou and Nico

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 the popular 10 course tasting menu.

Modou has climbed the ranks from kitchen porter to head chef, to now restaurant owner.

Commenting on his decision, Nico said: “The time feels right, for both myself and Modou. 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.

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“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!”

Modou Diagne 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".

111 by Modou will open on Friday 3rd April 2020 at 111 Cleveden Road, Glasgow G12 0JU and bookings are now being taken.

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Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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