Known as Chef Fregz, Nigerian chef Gbubemi Fregene has become something of a household name in the Nigerian culinary world. His unique cooking style has also caught the attention of foodies around the world. Fregene grew up in Benin City, where he completed a few culinary internships during his youth. He started a successful catering company, DVARD Catering Service, but decided to pursue his dreams and hone his craft in Paris. He trained at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute and worked for a time at the Market Restaurant before returning to Nigeria.
After Chef Fregz returned home, he committed himself to working with Nigerian youth. In addition to introducing them to the pleasures and opportunities of cooking, he helps young chefs connect to the resources they need. One of the ways he promotes his brand is by hosting regular cookouts known as Chef Fregz™ Special. Attendees get to enjoy a party-like atmosphere while also enjoying special dishes from the famous chef.
In addition to running Chef Fregz Catering and empowering Nigerian youth, Fregene has also served as a judge for televised cooking competitions and writes a food column. His success is undoubtedly due to his talent and his drive but his likability is also a factor. Anslem Jon wrote for Tush Magazine that Fregene has “a bubbling personality and a passion for food and life.” When asked why he became a chef, Fregene said, “I love to eat, I love to cook, I love to eat what I cook.” On CNN’s Africa Voices, Fregene explained how his upbringing contributed to his love of food: “Growing up we didn’t have much, we didn’t have any luxuries in life, but we had good food.”
His cooking style is unique, as someone born and raised in Africa but also trained in classical French cuisine. By combining European techniques and ingredients with traditional African dishes, he creates something new and fresh. The celebrity chef believes that food can and should be “a fusion of many different kinds of experiences.” This fusion approach results in food that stands out, food that is memorable, food that is meaningful.
One of Fregene’s goals is to put Lagos on the map as a food destination in Africa and he is already well on his way to achieving that goal. Chef Fregz hopes to publish a Nigerian cookbook, open a restaurant, and take his brand global in the future.