Tell me about yourself
My name is Awofala Aderinsola. I am a continental chef that infuse local flavours to create a modern fusion. I am also the Founder and Executive Chef of Purple Bistro and have been cooking professionally for about 5 years now. I come from Lagos State, Nigeria.
What does it mean to be a chef?
For me, it means a lot of things. Asides from cooking and putting food on the client’s table, being a chef is a way of life. it is how I get to express how I feel. I like being able to put smiles on people’s faces with my food.
My ideology is that, if someone is feeling depressed about something and at that moment, I can get you a really good meal, and help you enjoy something, that is able to take your mind off your immediate problems and focus on the experience of the food. Then that is a win for me.
How did you get into the food service industry and why?
I have always had a thing for cooking because growing up as the first child, I had to be in the kitchen, with my mum, to help with the cooking. So, there was already a part of me that was used to all the workings of a kitchen. I did not become a chef out of a need to survive, it was a thing of choice.
You own a restaurant in Lagos – Purple Bistro – what were some of the biggest challenges you faced starting out?
As a startup, one of the biggest issues I faced was self-doubt. I was not sure if I would make sales and was afraid of failure. Secondly, lack of access to funds was a problem, which I think is something almost every entrepreneur or creative goes through. It kills so many dreams.
I had a problem with starting officially, as I am a perfectionist by nature. If whatever I am doing is not close to perfect, I will keep stalling. Even after securing funding and everything, I was still holding myself back. I needed it to be perfect, and I remember asking other people for their opinion before taking the plunge and kickstarting the restaurant.
What would you say is your greatest victory so far?
Purple Bistro is the first brand I started, and it has been successful. It is still growing, and I am trying to build it into a household name that will be reckoned with for a long time.
Nevertheless, I am happy on how far we have come. The truth is, I did not attend any culinary school or formal training. What I did was work with already established names and learn from them. A major victory for me is that I have been able to provide job opportunities for over 30 people and they are all doing very well for themselves in the industry.
What’s next for Chef Derin?
You guys should wait for it.
If you had a chance to restart, would you still do this?
Definitely! It is something I enjoy doing. It’s a lifestyle for me. I don’t think there’s any other thing I would venture into that I would enjoy as much as I enjoy doing this.
What is your favorite or most popular recipe?
Seafood pasta. My secret ingredients are light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, black pepper oyster sauce, and sweet chili.