One would be remiss not to include Derrick Hayes in the conversation when it comes to cultural savants making waves in the culinary industry. From appearances on the Tamron Hall show to linking up with some of the biggest names in Black culture today—Hayes is certainly one of the leaders of the culinary new school.

Originally from Philadelphia, the chef and entrepreneur has built a reputation for himself as an astute businessman, intent on bridging the gap between family and business. So much so that his hugely successful restaurant chain—Big Dave's Cheesesteaks—is named after his deceased father. But, the rich familial legacy didn’t start there, as the inception of Hayes’ culinary journey started with the mentorship of his grandfather.  

“As a kid, my grandfather would have me in the kitchen every single day, watching him cook and keeping him company. What I didn't realize was that he was preparing me for greatness because when he went to church on Sundays, I would stay home and finish Sunday dinner because those were his rules," Derrick Hayes shares. "I ended up discovering my gift when it came to making seasonings and cooking. People always loved how I brought certain dishes together, and I just kept getting better and better. I owe it all to my grandfather. I’m glad I was able to pick up all the skills and techniques he passed down to me.”

When it comes to his favorite dish of all time to make, the Big Dave's CEO insists that it's collard greens. It's a meal that's reminiscent of his upbringing.

“Growing up, if you smelled a pot of collard greens, you knew the entire family was coming together. You knew that you would see all of your cousins, siblings, grandparents, and everyone else coming together. Throughout the years, I made them so much that I came up with my own recipe. I took all the spices that I love and mixed it with things I’ve seen people in my family use—like my grandfather and mother. It turned out to be something that was so special.”

EBONY caught up with Hayes to share his famous collard greens recipe, just in time for Black History Month. Check it out below.

Derrick Hayes' Delicious Vegan Collard Greens

Cook time: 2 hours | Serves: 4

Collard greens are a Southern classic, but who says vegans can’t enjoy them too? This recipe is packed with flavor and will make you forget all about the traditional bacon grease.

Derrick Hayes' Delicious Vegan Collard Greens

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of vegan bacon bits
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup of vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Big Dave’s All-Purpose Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 bunches of collard greens, stems removed and sliced into ribbons
  1. Prepare the collard greens by removing the stems and slicing them into thin ribbons. Rinse well and pat dry.
  2. In a large pot, add the vegan bacon bits and half pot of water. Bring to a boil and add in the onion, green pepper, and mushrooms.
  3. Once the vegetables are tender, add in the olive oil and cup of vinegar. Continue to boil for 20 minutes.
  4. Season the mixture with Big Dave’s All-Purpose Seasoning, garlic salt, onion powder, salt, and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the sliced collard greens and stir well. The greens will wilt down as they cook.
  6. Simmer the mixture for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, making sure not to boil. When done, the greens will be dark, tender, and bursting with flavor.
Shop items needed for your recipe

All-Purpose Seasoning

Price: $6

Organic white vinegar

Price: $4