Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop Knows the Recipe for Success

Ten years in, the Miami-based bakery is sweeter than ever.

8 minutos de lectura

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Craving a bit of Fireman Derek’s magic? DashPass members (sign up!) who spend $15 or more June 27-July 3 at Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop will get a free Fluffer Nutter Cake Jar or German Chocolate Cake Jar! The German Chocolate Cake Jar has layers of German chocolate cake and a coconut-pecan icing, and the Fluffernutter Cake Jar is made with vanilla cake layers, peanut butter buttercream, and marshmallow fluff. Terms and conditions apply.*

Derek Kaplan discovered his love of baking as a teenager when he perfected his Key lime pie recipe. “I didn’t invent Key lime pie, but I know I can execute the recipe very well and that’s what makes it such a hit,” says Kaplan. Many years later, Kaplan is the proud owner of Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop, which boasts three South Florida locations and celebrates its 10th anniversary on July 3rd.

In the past decade, it would seem that Kaplan has perfected more than just pies — he’s also figured out the recipe to success. But he didn’t always intend to open a bake shop. 

After baking for fun through his teenage years, Kaplan became a Miami-Dade firefighter and found himself baking for his colleagues on a regular basis. “I had a captive audience and they were so honest,” says Kaplan. The experience helped him hone his skills. “Instead of tucking your tail between your legs, you take the feedback and make edits. I didn’t take anything personally, but I used it as motivation to improve.”


He challenged himself to cook and bake to the best of his abilities while working at the fire department, where he was in charge of cooking three meals a day for up to 20 other firefighters during his 24-hour shifts at Downtown Miami’s Station 1. Kaplan’s firehouse colleagues greatly encouraged his baking — a fellow firefighter named Pat Murdock even claimed that if he had the money, he’d give it to Kaplan so he could open a pie shop. 

When Murdock suddenly passed away in 2013, his wife, Kim, became Kaplan’s business partner in honor of her late husband. Together, they opened the very first Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop in Miami’s hip Wynwood neighborhood the very next year. 

“We probably had four or five people working front of house and two or three bakers in the kitchen with me when we started,” says Kaplan, who now has 70 employees across his three bake shops — a larger flagship location in Wynwood, a shop in the Coconut Grove shopping district, and a new location in Fort Lauderdale about 40 minutes from the original.

Kaplan reflects on the journey that got him here: “Every day is a learning opportunity, and you have to be pliable and malleable because the market is going to dictate what it wants,” says Kaplan. When the first shop opened in Wynwood, he experimented with several savory items — from sandwiches to empanadas and small hearty bites like a mini chicken pot pie. “Rather than being sad the savory items weren’t doing well, I realized it was a smarter decision to stock that space with even more sweets, and that’s exactly what we did.”

Today, the menu is the same across all three shops — heavy on the sweets, with plenty of options. Some favorites include the famous Key lime pie, a salted caramel pie, red velvet cake, carrot cake, and an array of cookies including guava white chocolate and a classic chocolate chip cookie.


Those looking for something a little more extra can indulge in the Cookie Monster pie made with Fireman Derek’s special chocolate chip cookie base, crushed Oreo cookies, and cheesecake filling topped with whipped cream, more cookies, Ghirardelli chocolate, and caramel sauce. There’s also the Dulce Banana Cream pie, a no-bake banana cream pie piled over a bed of dulce de leche and topped with crushed vanilla wafers and caramel sauce.

“Everyone likes different flavors and we do them in different ways,” says Kaplan. “If you’re an apple lover there’s an apple pie, but there’s also an apple pie cheesecake. That’s the art of it — you’ll find several iterations of classic flavors across our menu.”

Kaplan says he’s proud of the speed at which Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop has grown. Knowing expansion doesn’t happen overnight, Kaplan describes it as “little steps forward.” 

“I’m not trying to do 25 stores in one shot,” he says. “I want to do it methodically and at a pace that’s enjoyable.”


Right now, he’s focused on building a new commissary kitchen to increase production and wholesale availability. As far as where to expand next, Kaplan is very certain about what he’s looking for. “I’m only interested in opening in locations where I know I’ll do well and where the monthly expenses are reasonable,” says Kaplan, who is realistic and aware of how intense rent has become for business owners. “I sell a very specific product and the clientele has to be in the right area to appreciate and crave what we’re known for.”

Kaplan says the last decade has taught him humility — and the importance of being a great teacher.  “As a business owner, I’ve learned that you need to know your teams’ strengths. Just because they aren’t good at one thing doesn’t mean they can't be great at something else,” says Kaplan, who is fond of the saying, “You can’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree.” 

“I think you need to foster an environment where you have patience and understand that a person could be talented, and it’s on you as the leader to figure out how to help them reach that potential where they will thrive,” says Kaplan. 

“I’m trying to make the best of the best, as best as I possibly can,” he says. Much like a pie, it seems, the recipe for success is greater than the sum of its parts.

*Valid only at participating Fireman Derek's locations. Fees (including service see), taxes, and gratuity still apply. Terms apply. Orders must have a minimum subtotal of $15, excluding taxes and fees. Offer valaid on 6/27/24 - 7/3/24, or while supplies last. Must be an active DashPass subscriber. Must have or create a valid DoorDash account with a vlid form of accepted payment on file. No cash value. Non-transferable. See full terms and conditions at .

PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Carter


Amber Love Bond
Amber Love Bond

La escritora gastronómica de Miami