A Taste of Culture With Chef Fregz
by Ladun Ogidan
Gbubemi Fregene better known as Chef Fregz was born in Abeokuta. While studying for a degree in industrial relations and human resource management at Covenant University, Ota, he began his culinary internships in Lagos at Oakwood Park and Protea Hotel in 2004, continuing at Oleander Lodge in 2007. In 2009, he started his own catering service called DVARD Catering Service. He would go on to earn a diploma in cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute, Paris and later, work as an intern at the Prestigious Market Restaurant, Paris between November, 2010 and February, 2011. He was the only one of his batch retained in the restaurant’s employ after the initial internship period. On his return to Nigeria, the Chef Fregz brand was birthed out of a need for the young chef to communicate and connect with the upwardly mobile crowd, which he promoted by hosting regularly summer style cookouts called Chef Fregz™ Special. Since then, he has worked with major brands like Knorr, Kenwood and most recently, Samsung.
When did you realise you wanted to be a chef?
When I was 16. 10 years before then, I was always in the kitchen and at 13, I was obsessed with Jamie Oliver. At age 16 after secondary school, I was sure that what I wanted to do in life was cook. However, it wasn’t until 21 that I became fully confident.
Considering you source your produce abroad, how have you managed to keep your prices low and maintain quality, amidst the inflation due to rising exchange rates?
We source our products from everywhere but you’re right, our dinners and high events require quite some importation. I have been fortunate to have understanding clients who appreciate what I do and pay for it.
How do you describe your cuisine and what has the reception been like since you started?
This is still a tough question to answer as I work private chef style and have to appeal to many different customer tastes. However, I have been able to focus on doing fusion food by blending Thai dishes with French techniques, or both flavours. We also do modern takes on Nigerian food as well.
What quality defines your brand and sets it apart from others?
Our brand is defined by a vibrancy that runs through the food to the service. I also get from many people that we are just different. So that’s it I guess.
What is your philosophy about cooking?
Where I am at as a chef now… Keep it simple. If you can’t do complex, don’t bother. Cook the ingredients right.
What trends in the business do you see on the horizon?
I see more focused food businesses. People are looking to specialise more.
Are there any plans to expand to other states?
World you mean? Yes, please!
December 11, 2017
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