Glasgow chef Nico Simeone is giving ownership of his original 111 restaurant in Kelvinside to a young Senegalese man who worked his way up from kitchen porter to head chef at the award-winning establishment.

From April 3, the restaurant will be known as “111 by Modou” as Mr Simeone relinquishes control to Modou Diagne. It will close down on March 23 for 10 days of refurbishment before opening under the new branding.

The move comes as Mr Simeone prepares to open his seventh restaurant in the Six by Nico franchise, with the latest iteration due to begin serving customers in London at the end of this month.

“The time feels right, both for myself and Modou,” he said. “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 Modu.”

Originally from Senegal, Mr Diagne spent much of his younger life in Spain. He came to Glasgow by himself at the age of 18 with just £200 in his pocket looking for work opportunities.

He slept rough for his first 10 days in the country before he found refuge in a charity church for the homeless and then eventually permanent shelter. After a year of continuously unsuccessful job applications because of his poor English, he stumbled across an ad Mr Simeone had posted online for a kitchen porter at 111.

He applied within three minutes of the ad going live, and was hired in June 2014. Mr Simeone said that he noticed within two months that the young porter has an “unbelievable” work ethic.

Mr Simeone began to teach the young man the fundamentals of kitchen hygiene, basic food ingredients, how to hold a knife and more complex skills that led to the basics of cooking. During this time, Mr Diagne was able to save enough money to move into a hostel and get off the streets.

From there he continued to work his way up, and is credited as playing an intrinsic role in the success of 111 by Nico. Mr Diagne helped with the launch of previous menus such as the “Trust” and “Total Trust” concepts, and spearheaded the more recent introduction of the popular 10-Course Tasting Menu.

“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,” Mr Simeone said. “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.”

Mr Simeone opened 111 as his debut restaurant in 2015. His original Six by Nico launched in the Finnieston area of Glasgow in 2017, followed by Edinburgh in 2018 and Belfast,. Manchester and Liverpool last year.

Mr Diagne said taking charge of 111 would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

“This opportunity is completely life-changing for myself and my family back home,” he said. “Having moved here in 2013, I would never have dreamed that I would be in this position seven years later.

“My hard work has paid off but more so, this is 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.”

Born in Glasgow to Italian parents, Mr Simeone was raised in a family of Mediterranean foodies.

His career has included stints at Michelin starred Number One at The Balmoral, where he worked with Craig Sandle and was awarded “Young Scottish Seafood Chef of the Year”.