Koj turned his passion into his career after reaching the final of BBC1’s MasterChef. He started out with fast track training at leading restaurants such as Royal Hospital Road***, The Ledbury**, Le Gavroche**, Oud Sluis*** and Dinner by Heston**. After furthering his experience cooking privately including for HM The Queen and A-list celebrities, he has now fulfilled his dream of opening his first restaurant in Cheltenham, with the aim of pushing Japanese cuisine in the UK beyond the comfort zone of sushi.

Josh Lyle
Josh is a second year student of Photography at the University of Gloucestershire who shot the restaurant interior photos for this website. He started working in hospitality back home in Cornwall with Paul Ainsworth at No 6*. He likes Moo Moo but he is not a fan of Ginsters.

Martyna Wieczerzak, Restaurant Manager
Martyna has spent ten years in hospitality, including some of Cheltenham's most cherished restaurants such as Coco Bistrot, Wild Beer and Number 7, She is also a mum of two, a skill which often comes in useful at work too.

Ben Ramsay, Kitchen Porter
Luckily for us, Ben commutes in from Worcester where he is at college. Unluckily for us, his mum lives in Tenerife so he is often there topping up his tan. He is vegetarian and supports Manchester United.

Robin Stock, Head Chef
Robin has spent 25 years in the hospitality industry, cutting his teeth with Gary Rhodes in London, before rising to Senior Sous Chef at Whatley Manor when it held 2 Michelin stars. He also brings useful experience on the supplier side, having worked at Creed and Wellocks. Outside work he has his hands full with five children and is a avid Gloucester rugby fan.

Richard Holt
Richard is a local lad who began his career in the kitchen at Corse Lawn Hotel and continued learning at Cowley Manor, before deciding to step out of his comfort zone to learn Japanese cuisine. After work, he likes to play pool at the Frog & Fiddle or talk shop with his girlfriend who is a dedicated pastry chef.

Phoebe Pearson
Phoebe is also a second year student of Photography at the University of Gloucestershire, specialising in food photography. Her previous front of house experience is working in her local Italian restaurant back home near Leeds.

Dan Morgan, Bar Manager
Dan is a local boy who began working in hotels in his teens. After a spell bartending in some of Birmingham's busiest nightspots, he returned to the Cotswolds as the Bar Manager at Monty's Cocktail Bar in Cheltenham. Now he is applying his experience in mastering mixology using Japanese sake, whisky and shochu.


The Team

The hospitality industry is renowned for its long hours and low remuneration. Couple that with inadequate training and the result is a despondent team and a disappointing dining experience for customers.

We believe that our staff should continually be inspired, educated and rewarded for their commitment and passion and that this will create a virtuous circle for the business as well as the career development of our staff.

You may notice the team dining together after service. This gives us a chance not only to eat, but to socialise together, relax after a long hard day, reflect on the highs and lows and acknowledge everyone’s contribution. Otsukaresama desu, as they say in Japan.


Koj Cheltenham began life as a nine week pop up restaurant in autumn 2016. Encouraged by local enthusiasm for a new and different type of dining experience, we decided to open a permanent restaurant.

A successful 25 day campaign raised £54,000 through Kickstarter in return for rewards and allowed us to refurbish a former café as a restaurant with a Japanese style open kitchen and cocktail bar on the first floor.