The business of food in Nigeria owes a huge part of its exponential growth to the expertise and talent of a number of stakeholders, and the Chefs. Specialising in everything from gourmet and pastries to good old Nigerian food, here’s our pick of just some of the top Chefs who have become synonymous with quality and innovation in the culinary space.
Tiyan Alile is a Nigerian Chef who established the first culinary school in Nigeria. She officially began working in the culinary arts in 1999 when she started a grill house at the Ibadan Golf Club named Tees Hot Bites. Four years later, in 2003, she opened up a Nigerian restaurant called Matchsticks Concepts while she was a food columnist for Genevieve Magazine.
In 2015, Chef Alile launched her restaurant, Tarragon, which originally started out as adinner club. She also organised the African Young Chefs Competition ‘AYCC’, a platform for young African chefs with a focus on African indigenous cuisine on an international scale.
Gbubemi Fregene, popularly known as Chef Fregz, is a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute, Paris. He birthed his brand Fregz Catering out of the need to communicate, especially with young and mobile people like himself. He is passionate about life and even more so about cooking great food.
Chef Fregz relishes the local buka-inspired dishes, like Amala (prepared from yam flour) and Jollof rice. On completion of his diploma at Le Cordon Bleu, he worked as an intern at the Prestigious Market Restaurant, Paris, between 2010 and 2011. He is also a judge on Knorr Taste Quest and a popular food columnist.
Nkesi Enyioha is a seasoned chef with nearly a decade of experience in offering private culinary and catering services. An alumnus of the Ashburton Cookery School in the United Kingdom, Chef Nkesi is widely admired for her fusion of European techniques with the bold flavours of Africa and Asia.
Chef Nkesi is the founder of HSE Café, a cosy restaurant serving gourmet cuisine to a cosmopolitan audience of consumers, in the heart of Lekki, and the Head Chef and Co-founder of the increasingly popular modern fusion restaurant, Sabor, located in Victoria Island, Lagos. She also has a cooking show ‘Chef Nkesi’s Kitchen’ on YouTube.
Alex Oke is a Nigerian-Russian Chef based in Nigeria. He was trained in classical/contemporary French cuisine at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA) in Vancouver, Canada, and worked with Lear Faye in East Vancouver before returning to Nigeria as a Pastry Chef at Tarragon Restaurant.
The owner of XO Boutique Bakery in Lagos, and an instructor at the Culinary Academy, Chef Oke, is passionate about bread, pastry and confections.
Tolu Eros is a Nigerian Chef who, after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business Management from the University of Wolverhampton, United Kingdom, started off working as a Sous Chef before he moved back to Lagos to open his first restaurant, La Saison Café and Restaurant, Ikoyi.
With expertise in infusing the finest ingredients sourced locally and around the world to create exotic meals, he has gone on to open Cookie Jar; a celebrated gourmet bakery that produces cookies, cupcakes, cakes, original pastries and inspired desserts, and Eros and Gourmet which is a culinary service company. He was recently revealed as Shoprite’s first ever brand ambassador.
Imoteda Aladekomo is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef, who has long shared her passion for cooking with family and friends. She conceptualised and created ‘Heels in the Kitchen’ where she brings a unique understanding of being a working mother in Lagos, who after a long day of working in heels, must go into the kitchen to cater for her family; something her target demographic knows all too well.
In 2016, Chef Imoteda created The Nigerian Fusion Food Tour, which was a seven-city tour that showcased Nigerian food in new and exciting ways. It made stops in Lagos, Abuja, London, Baltimore, Chicago, Atlanta and Toronto.
Michael Ade Elegbede is a chef on a mission to revive and tell the story of Nigeria’s cuisine culture while focusing on the unique ingredients, flavours and cooking traditions of the indigenous cultures. He hosted Nigerian food pop-up dinners while in New York and says that the country’s food made him fall in love with cooking.
A graduate of Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of America, Elegbede has worked in upscale fine dining restaurants such as Eleven Madison Park, Le Benardin and Alinea restaurants. He recently opened ITAN, a tasting menu in Lagos. He believes one should follow one’s calling in life to impact the world around them.
Chef Benedict is a custodian of Italian Cuisines and an alumni of two prestigious institutions: le Cordon Bleu Firenze (Scuola d’arte Culinaria Italiana), and Carpigiani Gelato University, Bologna, Italy.
Having grown up in the ancient city of Florence in Italy, Chef Benedict’s career as a Chef began in 2013. Since then, he has built a reputation for his extensive knowledge of Italian cuisine and ability to replicate and elevate classic Italian dishes using produce from local farmers.