We always imagine in some parallel universe we’d be elite chefs hanging out with the biggest sports superstars. Cooking during the day, NBA games at night. No big deal. Welcome to the life of Richard Ingraham. A native of Miami, Ingraham worked in the kitchens of The Bubble Room Champagne and Wine Bar and Insignia Restaurant. His current role, however, makes him the envy of South Beach: he’s the private chef for Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade.
As the NBA Finals tip off this week, with the Heat taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder, we thought we’d check in with Ingraham to see what it’s really like to cook for NBA elites.
Overall how does Dwyane eat during the season? What are some of his most requested meals?
I try to keep his diet as clean and organic as possible. I watch his sugar, salt and fat intake very closely. At this stage in our relationship he really doesn’t request much. He trusts that I know what I’m doing so he allows me to maintain his nutritional intake with a free hand.
Has anything changed with the transition to the playoffs?
No, we have not changed anything as far as his diet during the playoffs, but I keep a close eye to see if there are changes in his performance. I also ask questions to get a feel of what’s going on with him during practice and during games so that I can make the necessary adjustments to his nutritional regimen if needed.
Are there any foods or ingredients you’ve tried to introduce to him that’s he’s reluctant to embrace?
We’ve had our struggles getting him to eat vegetables and seafood. In the past year, he has incorporated more salads and greens into his diet, which is great! I have become creative by getting him to eat more vegetables through juicing and pureeing them into the pasta sauces and things like that. Now, as far as seafood… it’s still a no-go, but I’ll get him one day!
What’s the oddest request you’ve received from him?
He saw Hamburger Helper on TV once and he said, “That’s what I want for dinner.” So, I made it from scratch for him. I think he does this sometimes just to see if I can do it.
Does he have a sweet tooth?
Yes, he has a nice size sweet tooth! We have an agreement that I’ll make him a treat once a week — chocolate chip cookies. I try and act as if I forget, but he doesn’t have a problem reminding me that it’s time for some cookies. I can only make 2-3 at a time because he’ll eat them all.
Do LeBron or any other teammates come over for steaks and SportsCenter?
I’ve cooked for LeBron James and Mario Chalmers, and a few other players after a workout session. This doesn’t happen often as they have their own chefs. I also provide customized meal planning for several NFL players as well.