Philly food and drink scene

The DF Nigeria truck is cultivating fans of West African food in Northeast Philly

Chef Divine and his wife, who moved down from NYC, are now looking to expand.

The DF Nigeria food truck sets up at 5200 Whitaker Ave. near Roosevelt Boulevard

The DF Nigeria food truck sets up at 5200 Whitaker Ave. near Roosevelt Boulevard

Walden Green for Billy Penn
waldengreen2

Nigerian chef and secuity-guard-turned-entrepreneur Godshelter Oluwalogbon took his popular New York City food truck DF Nigeria to Philadelphia this summer.

Oluwalogbon, better known as Chef Divine, graduated from the New York School of Culinary Arts and trained in the kitchen at the Jewish speciality market Zabar’s before founding Divine Flavored Catering. That company’s Manhattan food truck launched in 2015, and now has set up shop at 5200 Whitaker Ave. near Roosevelt Boulevard in Lawncrest.

DF Nigeria’s menu features dishes from across West Africa. Staples include spicy jollof rice — which is often served with spinach, plantains, and goat — and soup made from the seeds of the egusi melon, which are like creamier pumpkin seeds.

Nigerian food “has so much detail you need to pay attention to,” Oluwalogbon told Billy Penn.

That detail is instantly perceptible from the first bite, with layers of flavor coaxed out of lots of slow cooking. Nigerian staples are the root of many diaspora cuisines, so many of the flavors and spice blends will be immediately recognizable for lovers of Cuban, Puerto Rican, and African American soul food.

Oluwalogbon regularly visits suppliers in West Africa, directing them on how raw ingredients should be made to pack a maximum punch in his recipes. When it comes to egusi, for example “it must not feel like you’re chewing sand,” he said. “You must be able to chew the egusi and let it melt into your mouth.”

Jollof rice with goat, spinach, and plantain

Jollof rice with goat, spinach, and plantain

Walden Green for Billy Penn

DF Nigeria came to Philly via New York, where Divine and his wife Bisola have run the catering arm of their business since 2005. When customers told the duo they wanted the same food in smaller portions, Divine and Bisola invested around $40k into opening their first truck, where they served jollof rice outside the Nigerian Embassy blocks away from the Chrysler Building.

It’s still a family business. Bisola runs the Whitaker Ave. truck, which is also staffed by his daughters Tobi and Hadassah, alongside his “big son” Elijah.

The family moved to Philly in 2021. “For whatever reason for the past 14 years, I’ve always felt that there’s something for me in Philadelphia,” Oluwalogbon said.

Across all locations and business iterations, Divine’s north star has always been consistency.

“If you come back to us 5 years from now, the same taste from our jollof rice is what you’re gonna get,” he said.

From gefilte fish to jollof

Oluwalogbon learned about the value of consistency in an unexpected place: Zabar’s.

This gourmet institution on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, known as a wonderland of Jewish foods (think oversized knishes, cheeses, and foie gras), is where Chef Divine honed his skills for over 10 years.

He started at the market as a security guard when he immigrated to the United States. Eventually, a recommendation from his supervisor landed him a job as a prep cook under executive chef Boris Basin.

Oluwalogbon's wife Bisola, who runs the Philly outpost of the food truck

Oluwalogbon's wife Bisola, who runs the Philly outpost of the food truck

Walden Green for Billy Penn

From there, he earned promotion after promotion — working “in literally all the departments in the kitchen,” he says — until he became a sous chef.

Now at the helm of his own company, Oluwalogbon attributes a lot of what he knows about running a kitchen to his former boss. Basin was “very tough, was crazy,” Oluwalogbon recalled. “But now I understand why the craziness and the madness … because I’m in his shoes now.”

Oluwalogbon and Bisola plan on making further inroads into the Philly community by popping up at flea markets and festivals, and hosting their own events “where people can come and have a blast of Nigerian food.”

Whatever shape the continued expansion of Divine Flavored Catering takes, it’s a quote from Basin that guides Oluwalogbon: “My boss would always tell me, when you are in food you have to attach yourself to it. He said, ‘When you make food, it’s like when you make love.'”

Want some more? Explore other Philly food and drink scene stories.

Mornings are for coffee and local news

Billy Penn’s free morning newsletter gives you a daily roundup of the top Philly stories you need to start your day.

You finished another Billy Penn article — keep it up!

We hope you found it useful, fun, or maybe even both. If you want more stories like this, will you join us as a member today?

Nice to see you (instead of a paywall)

Billy Penn’s mission is to provide free, quality information to Philadelphians through our articles and daily newsletter. If you believe local journalism is key to a healthy community, join us!

Your donation brought this story to life

Billy Penn only exists because of supporters like you. If you find our work valuable, consider making a sustaining donation today.

Being informed looks good on you

Thanks for reading another article, made possible by members like you. Want to share BP with a friend?