Wynwood’s Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop bringing pies, cakes, buzz to downtown Fort Lauderdale

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Oct 26, 2021 6:00 AM

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Derek Kaplan expects to open a new location of Fireman Derek's Bake Shop in downtown Fort Lauderdale in the spring.

Derek Kaplan expects to open a new location of Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop in downtown Fort Lauderdale in the spring. (Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop)

A new location of Wynwood’s acclaimed Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop is coming to downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Former Miami firefighter Derek Kaplan predicts a spring 2022 opening for his third shop, to be located on Federal Highway, just north of Broward Boulevard, between Victoria Park and Flagler Village.

The space is in a new, stand-alone building in a small center at Northeast Third Street anchored by Suan Thai and Japanese Restaurant, directly across Federal Highway from The Dalmar hotel.

Kaplan’s inventive pies, cakes, cheesecakes and cookies have been a staple of annual best-of lists since he opened his first location in Wynwood more than seven years ago. His other shop is in Coconut Grove.

Kaplan has been looking to open a Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop in Fort Lauderdale for some time.

“I definitely feel that the demographic, especially in that area, is the right fit. Flagler Village, downtown Fort Lauderdale, is definitely a happening place, a growing place. I want to be part of the community up there,” Kaplan says.

Fireman Derek's Bake Shop is not all about sweets. There's also the savory warmth of his chicken pot pie.

Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop is not all about sweets. There’s also the savory warmth of his chicken pot pie. (Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop)

The move also is a test, to see how far Fireman Derek’s sugar rush can travel.

“I love everything that’s going on in Miami, but I want to prove that we’re at least a state-of-Florida brand, if not maybe have the opportunity to be something much bigger. Moving up to Broward County is the first step,” he says.

The following step, he says, will be a Fireman Derek’s in Palm Beach County. He hasn’t settled on a location yet, but so far he’s looked at property around Delray Beach and West Palm Beach.

All Fireman Derek’s signature cakes and pies are prepared daily at Kaplan’s Little Haiti commissary, with smaller items such as cookies, brownies, savory pot pies and empanadas baked daily at individual locations. The menu also includes house-made ice cream spiked with his cookies and cake.

The Fireman Derek’s story started in his father’s apartment, where a 15-year-old Kaplan baked his first Key lime pie.

“My father was, like, ‘If you want to eat, you better learn how to cook,’” Kaplan says with a laugh.

For a decade he was the cook for 20 firefighters at Station 1 in downtown Miami and in his down time began baking to supplement his income, churning out a couple dozen pies a week. Two years after opening a small storefront in Wynwood in 2014, he left the department to bake full-time.

S'mores Pie at Fireman Derek's Bake Shop, opening in the spring in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

S’mores Pie at Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop, opening in the spring in downtown Fort Lauderdale. (Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop)

A former Grambling defensive tackle, Kaplan is a man of large, muscular intensity, and he bakes like it. His cakes are statuesque, his pies unapologetically flavorful — from his signature Key lime pie and decadent S’mores Pie (brownie baked in a graham cracker crust topped with a layer of torched marshmallow) to a pot pie filled with buffalo chicken and mac ‘n cheese.

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His Irish Car Bomb Pie is infused with Tullamore Dew, Bailey’s Irish Cream and a Guinness reduction.

While he specializes in over-the-top desserts, Kaplan says he brings healthful instincts to the process.

“Everything is made fresh, with natural ingredients. We’re using real food in all of our desserts. I started with the Key lime pie, and I still squeeze the Key limes fresh. It’s not bottled or some kind of preserved juice. I think that resonates with millennials, with foodies in general. I definitely feel that [Fort Lauderdale] market is filled with those types of customers,” he says.

In May, Kaplan moved his Wynwood bakeshop to a larger space three blocks away, at 2545 N. Miami Ave. The Coconut Grove location is at 3435 Main Highway. For more information, visit FiremanDereks.com.

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