“I am very passionate about changing the world and seeing people achieve purpose”
Tell us a bit about yourself, your personality, and your background.
My name is Gbolabo Adebakin. You could call me Chef Gibbs. I have been in the culinary space professionally since 2013. I am the General Manager for Sabor, Vice president for the Culinary Arts Practitioners Association of Nigeria. I am also the Vice President of Feed the Kids Initiative and I run my own theater production house where I bring young creatives together for our long-term sustained project.
I am very passionate about changing the world and seeing people achieve their purpose. That’s about everything. You really are an all-rounder!
Could you please share with us a bit about your background in Theatre Arts?
Without blowing horns, God blessed me with a lot of gifts. I used to consider them distractions until I realized everything deposited in me would stir up, not necessarily to make me a star, but it helps me recognize myself better. In primary school, I would do activities like music, theater arts, and drama. I was in every secondary school play, church play, name it. That was the start for me.
How did you transition to being a Chef?
I would say like my other gifts, my culinary skills were built. My grandfather was a political figure in the community, and we would cook during every festive season. My mum was the first wife (Iyawo Ile), so she had to ensure that everything related to food was done properly.
I watched all of these, I would even peel stock cubes and cut the liver and try out the food. It was just for fun. I would cook for the family and that was normal. When I got into secondary school, I adopted my parent’s preference and settled into sciences with the hope to become an Engineer, but certain things were difficult for me. Not because I didn’t know them, but because I’d rather do something else. I ended up switching to Food and Nutrition class, and it was bliss for me.
Let’s talk a bit about your Passion Projects. How does the project impact your profession?
Feed the Kids is an output for me to give to those who are not able to have the benefits I have. I am rest assured my life is managed by God, so I find opportunities to make impacts however I can. It also defines my profession beyond selling food. It is an opportunity to tackle other food system issues like food waste, deficiencies, malnutrition, etc. It is a part of my work and a way to make a global impact.
Of course, it has its challenges, but there are great outcomes. At the moment, we have a couple of community kitchens that meet the food needs of community skills and displaced mothers who serve as caterers in these kitchens.
How about Friends of Art?
That is a project that stabilizes the balance for creatives against pandemics. It is a platform for creatives to express themselves without restrictions, it was also an opportunity for me to input my theater experience to transform the culinary space.
What is your inspiration? What sustains this movement of change?
I have the habit of placing others first. I recognize people’s difficulties. I take time to remember and remind people that they are special and can be better. That’s my drive.
What do you consider a defining moment for you in this profession?
That would be during my WAEC when the external invigilator tasted the food from the practical class and made a comment about me becoming a Chef. It was the first time I heard the word Chef. That was a CTA and a defining moment.
What do you consider most challenging in this journey?
I remember starting Gibbs Grill. I was fresh out of secondary school, and I started to run the business, but it was so draining. The pain of financial losses, people management. People like to use you; they would barely encourage you to have an identity. I have seen it happen almost everywhere I’ve worked. I am still figuring it out. Human interaction is a major challenge for me.
Where do you envision yourself and your brand in 3-5 years from now?
3 years is a short term for me. In 3 years, I look to get my MBA, get more skills and expand. My long-term goal would be to set up a school that teaches leadership and culinary skills. Lastly, would be to own my restaurant, but the world wouldn’t end if that doesn’t happen.