Don’t you just love good food and the people that make good food look so easy? Well, Meet Gbubemi Fregene, known popularly as Chef Fregz, Executive Chef and owner of Chef Fregz; a private catering business.
Gbubemi Fregene was born in the south-western Nigerian city of Abeokuta. He is a part of, what can be called ‘the new-age Nigerian youth’ – who are carving out niches for themselves, as creative’s, outside of the regular professional career paths.
As a Chef, Gbubemi’s passion is to merge a creativity that is fresh and unbridled with elements of the budding youth culture and the world class training he received at Le Cordon Bleu in order to make every meal a truly unique culinary experience.
He shared some culinary secrets with us. Enjoy… , .
What was your inspiration for starting up the business?
Passion for eating good food. As a child I really loved the food my mum and Aunt Rosalind made and I started to question how it was made and showed interest in cooking my own food. So through the years, I was obsessed with things like BBC food, Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson. I would spend my savings on cooking for friends and people in the house. Whether it was sweet or not I more or less force fed people to try what I had made. In my University days, I was pushed to ask myself what I wanted for my life. I was force to think about was really drove me and what I was passionate about. I heard Fela Durotoye speak once and he said whatever you are willing to do for free is what you really should be doing; and cooking food for people to enjoy was my biggest passion and something I didn’t mind doing of free so I went for it.
To transform this into a business was really out of desperation. After I moved back from Paris where I attended Le Cordon Bleu culinary Institute, I actually did not want to work. I wanted to “relax” it had been one whole year of cooking and I wanted a “break” but when I noticed that no one was footing any more bills for me and my hotel job I really wanted was not coming through anytime soon, I dusted my small catering business I started prior culinary school and one of the first steps to “rebranding” was an accident/a stroke of inspiration.
While “relaxing” I used to drive my mother’s staff to and fro from work where she catered for an office and all that while I used to spend time at my friend’s new cafe. She always bugged me to make her “Cordon bleu” pancakes then it hit me… why don’t we do special event to market your space more you sell your desserts I sell my food and we split profit?
There Chef Fregz Special was born. The private chef business kicked off and I started the now steady Bellanaija Cuisine column
When, where and how did you make your first move?
In all honesty my very first move started from 2009 after I moved back to Lagos from Kaduna during my NYSC service year. After much thought, I moved back to “start up” a food business. I had nothing but my neighbour’s borrowed BBQ stand and my passion for grilled food. So I started out by doing BBQ style food for events. Two of my breaks were;
1. Cooking for my friend’s graduation party. I was meant to be part of that party because we graduated the same set but I was too happy to provide good BBQ food for the party. the food was a hit at the party and the referrals started to come in.
2. Also, I would say my biggest break was with Yewande Zaccheaus (Mrs) CEO Eventful ltd. We go to the same church and this fateful Sunday we had a work fairy and she sat there all by herself under “events” and I thought to myself WHY ISNT ANYONE TALKING TO HER! DO THEY KNOW WHO SHE IS?! She asked me to roast two chickens and make a salad for Christmas day for her and since then the rest has been history!
What are your milestones/success?
Every person I have served food and has it etched in their memory is my milestone and success. So I don’t sound too self-righteous and come across like I have 5 kobo humility. Cooking at the Italian embassy for Italians and they all thought it was an Italian cook who made dinner. It was such a triumph for me to have Italian people tell me my food reminded them of their grandmother’s cooking. I was privileged to be the chef for a private dinner for Dr Mike Adenuga for his 60th birthday.
What have been your major obstacles?
Staff; sometimes if not all the time they do not get it and setting up an office space too.
How has social media helped your career?
Social media has done too much for my business. Most of my business has come through social media. People respond to visuals very well. So we thank God for Instagram and twit pic and bellanaija.
Word of inspiration to others who want to start up a business?
“Be Passionate. Be Humble enough to seek help especially with regards to business acumen. Save, have written goals. Seek to always add to best value.”