Our founder, Lawrence Gomez, (known as PAPA L) was born in Gambia and grew up surrounded by the exotic flavours and ingredients inherent in the cuisine of his home country.
Lawrence developed his passion for food when he was just a boy. He loved learning from his mum, who was also passionate about food, and watching cookery shows. He was amazed at how food could be transformed from raw ingredients into stunning creations. Inspired by his mum’s love for cooking and seeing how something can be created from nothing, he decided as a teenager that he wanted to be a chef too. He wanted to develop his own food concept and flavours, creating something that would appeal to all, drawing on inspiration from his African heritage and giving it a modern twist.
He started out as a kitchen hand at the iconic Ivy restaurant in London’s Covent Garden, where he spent the next 10 years training and working his way up to head chef of the private dining room. After the Ivy, he worked at another top London restaurant, Sexy Fish for 18 months. During his time at these top London establishments, Lawrence developed his own marinades, using exotic herbs and spices, and experimented with using them on different foods. His passion for his own food creations grew and grew as he did more cooking for family and friends, so he decided to follow his dreams and launch PAPA L’s.