Culinary Conquests: Chef Derin’s Journey to Becoming a renowned chef in Nigeria

Derin is a celebrated Nigerian chef with a fascinating story in the culinary industry. In this episode, Chef Derin narrates a turbulent yet purpose-driven journey to becoming one of the most sought-after chefs in the heart of Lagos, Nigeria.



Chef Derin’s earliest culinary influences began as a child, assisting his mother in the kitchen. Mother and child bonding over meal preparations remains a part of his earliest memories as he familiarized himself with the fundamentals of cooking during this time. From humble beginnings, his involvement with cooking was purely as a matter of chore. However, this seeded his earliest inspirations for the craft, propelled by flavoursome Nigerian cuisines and the joy of seeing his family relish the meals he prepares. As with most middle-class Nigerian families, Derin’s childhood experience groomed him to be comfortable in the kitchen.



The financial struggles of the average Nigerian student are palpable, navigating tuition fees, living expenses, and limited resources requires determination and hard work. For students in this category, embracing the hustle culture is a way to meet up with daily expenses. However, for Derin, he was just bored and decided to join a friend who needed a co-worker at his popcorn and ice cream gig. Derin swiftly grasped the popcorn and ice cream-making process after being introduced to the measurements. Although unpaid the first time, his speed and efficiency were valued at the mobile popcorn and ice cream shop. The lady boss who ran the establishment, immediately realized that he would be an asset and asked for his friend to bring him along the next time. He was hired!

Derin was not particularly concerned with the pay. He was simply overjoyed with the food catering and service industry. This was the beginning of his fascination with a totally unplanned career path. Although a student of accounting, with devout educationists for parents, Derin’s stint at the popcorn and ice cream truck sparked a profound epiphany, revealing a newfound clarity regarding his life’s aspirations and career path.




Derin’s stint at the ice cream and popcorn truck made him realize he loved cooking. With clarity of mind and purpose, Derin began to actively immerse himself in cooking and kitchen environments on campus. “I tell most people; I have gone through all the stages of being a chef. I started from the very bottom, cleaning kitchens in 2015 and 2016.” From cleaning kitchens, he quickly garnered a reputation as a sought-after kitchen assistant on the local scene. When school was out of session, Derin expressed his passion for cooking to a friend who happened to be a party organizer for school events and fairs. “Cooking for campus fairs and school festivals is a totally different experience. You can’t afford to make mistakes; you can’t go wrong. I learnt to cook under tremendous pressure.”



A student of Yaba Tech at the time, with very strict parental instructions to prioritize the study of accounting, Derin was rather immersed in his passion for cooking. Leveraging his event organizer friend’s access, he cooked in Babcock, Bells and many renowned institutions to name a few. “I love the heat and chaos of the kitchen; I knew this is where I fit in” During this time, Derin was responsible for preparing the Babcock’s Vice Chancellor’s guest party meal, twice! This is by no means a small event, notable dignitaries, first-class kings, and other Vice Chancellors from other countries, and respectable international guests graced such occasions.


A self-made chef in the making, Derin’s reputation was forged in the festivals, parties and special guest events of Nigerian Universities. Simply known as Derin during this time, he quickly gained popularity as Chef Derin. Driven by a thirst for knowledge and rapidly gaining renown, Derin immersed himself in the culinary community, forging relationships with seasoned chefs to glean invaluable insights. This period also marked his emergence as a mentor to aspiring young chefs



Consultancy was the natural progression for his career development. During this period Chef Derin helped institute a pancake brand business, that remains popular till this day in the Akoka, axis. With an increasingly esteemed reputation, fervent requests from loyal patrons, and a relentless personal ambition to reach greater heights, Derin resolved to establish his own eatery at the University of Lagos. Purple Bistro was born purely out of the realization that his cooking recipe was superior to all the restaurants on campus. Derin saw a gap. There weren’t any flavorful restaurants on campus. Derin found a small space in October 2018, due to monetary constraints, Purple Bistro was born in March of 2019. Purple Bistro became an instant hit. Derin multitasked as a marketer, shopper and chef. The brand dominated campus and surrounding areas with new and existing customers coming from the furthest places, like the island. Purple Bistro’s secret was simple, it combined a relaxing environment with the unique touch of a master chef.




The politicization of business and work spaces for rent on university campuses led to Derin losing his newly acquired business. After a long-fought battle with the university authorities, a thriving business and locally celebrated eatery brand was maliciously ejected from its rental space. During this time, Derin was involved in a dreadful incident and hospitalized. These setbacks were seemingly insurmountable, but not enough to swallow Derin’s passion for cooking. With no money, no business and fragile health, Derin found a business partner and financier. The setback presented an interesting opportunity for recovery. Capitalizing on the early success of Purple Bistro, Derin secured a financier and relocated the brand to the University of Lagos Road. Amidst the challenges posed by the pandemic, Derin secured a small victory by sustaining his business despite a slowdown in sales. With pressure to recoup investments from a new financier, he leveraged social media adeptly for effective business marketing.




Cultivating a strong online reputation for the business soon got him thinking about building my personal brand. For the Derin, the results were immediate. “A Breakthrough when I became a brand ambassador for Knorr seasoning cube. In November of 2022, I was invited to a celebrity cookout show. It was the next level part for me”. For Chef Derin, these opportunities were unsolicited and based on the reputation and work he had put in over the years. Working with top-of-the-line celebrities like Tecno, MI,

Omawunmi, Johnny Drille and many more remain the highlight of Chef Derin’s career. In July 2024, he hosted two private dining experiences in South Africa. “I was finally getting the recognition I deserve, and I didn’t have to lobby for it” I paid the price for many years. I worked with a lot of people. I employed a lot of people. I was the underground industry king”.




Chef Derin’s Purple Bistro and Nobs and Berries have become iconic culinary destinations in Lagos, captivating the city with their exquisite offerings and warm hospitality. These establishments represent Chef Derin’s passion for creating unforgettable dining experiences that cater to different tastes and preferences.

Purple Bistro, with its cosy ambience and affordable yet flavourful cuisine, has quickly become a beloved spot for Lagosians seeking delicious meals in a relaxed setting. Here, patrons can indulge in a wide array of delectable dishes crafted with locally sourced ingredients, showcasing the vibrant flavours and culinary traditions of Nigeria. Whether it’s hearty comfort food or innovative twists on classic favourites, Purple Bistro prides itself on delivering exceptional quality at accessible prices, making it a favourite among budget-conscious diners.

In contrast, Nobs and Berries epitomizes sophistication and elegance, catering to a more discerning clientele looking for a refined fine dining experience with international flair. This upscale establishment boasts an exquisite menu curated by Chef Derin himself, featuring meticulously crafted dishes that tantalize the palate and elevate the dining experience to new heights. From exquisite seafood platters to succulent steak cuts and decadent desserts, every dish at Nobs and Berries is a culinary masterpiece, meticulously prepared with the finest ingredients and culinary expertise.

Copyright © 2022. The Bluemass Company

Copyright © 2022. The Bluemass Company

Partner for

Get Your Weekly HOSPITALITY DosE

Subscribe to TheBlueMass and recieve notifications on the juiciest updates and resources in hospitality