Feeding the fit and fabulous – tales from a celebrity personal chef
When given the opportunity to interview chef Richard Ingraham about his new cookbook, Eating Well to Win, I could have simply chatted about recipes and how to make foods that will get the most fit bods red-carpet and competition ready. But I was way more curious about what it’s like to be at the beck and call of beautiful, rich and famous people. Thankfully, Ingraham, who feeds obliged to my deep curiosity. And here is what I found out.
Does everything you make look like it came from a restaurant?
“It really depends on the client. On one hand you, have clients who are big on restaurant-quality dishes with great presentation. Then you have the client who just wants great food that they just don’t have to worry about making themselves. Either way, I prepare restaurant quality dishes tailored to the individual client’s request.”
What is different between typical clients and celebrity clients for your work?
There really isn’t a difference between them. They both want the best service, professionalism, and, food for their families. I pride myself on providing quality service to all clients from school teachers to three-time NBA Champions. However, a celebrity may have specific short or long-term wellness goals that affect their livelihood, so they have a more regimented culinary program.
What is the healthiest dish you’ve ever made?
“Oven roasted salmon with cumin-scented farro and sautéed kale.” You can find the recipe in the cookbook, of course.
What is the quirkiest dish – difficult or unusual – you’ve made for a celebrity client?
“Fortunately, I haven’t had the experience of any of my clients requesting anything out of the ordinary. But, I had a client request a healthy dessert and I made black bean brownies.”
Do you sneak foods into their diet?
“Yes, of course. I often have clients that don’t like to eat vegetables. So, I puree them in order to get them to eat them.”
Do you figure out the calories for them? Or how does it work when a celeb is on a diet?
“I work closely with my client’s trainers and nutritionist. In some cases, it’s required to count calories to achieve my client’s goals. There are instances where counting calories isn’t required. Making sure they are eating fresh food, incorporating healthy cooking techniques, and portion control is sufficient in helping them obtain their goals.
What diet food trends have you noticed among your celeb clients?
“A lot of my clients are juicing more, eating organic or even fresh off the farm, and they’re eliminating gluten, sugar and red meat from their diets.”
What foods to celebs not eat? Do they really not eat carbs?
“There is a wide range of foods that my clients will not eat. Over the years, they’ve ranged from vegetables to seafood and everything in between. And, yes, they definitely eat carbs. Carbs provide the energy needed in order for them to perform to the best of their ability. I make sure they eat healthy carbs though. But, everyone deserves a cheat day.”
Do they indulge with junk food? Do they only eat foods you make or do they “cheat” on you?
“Yes, everyone deserves a day to indulge in their favorite guilty pleasure. My clients are no exception. They enjoy cookies, cakes, candy. I often make whatever baked goods they want. I like doing this because that way I know exactly what they’re eating. With there being so many great restaurants out there it wouldn’t make sense for them to not venture out and try other food sometimes. They all enjoy a great meal at a restaurant, but I make sure they don’t forget where home is.”
What is the most entertaining story you’ve told friends about your job?
“It was back in 2012, and Miami Heat just won the NBA Championship. I was in the kitchen cooking and Dwyane TK puts a box on my cutting board and says ‘Merry Christmas chef.’ I stopped cooking, washed and dried my hands. As I open it, I see that he is more excited about me opening it than I am. As I tear open the package I see this shiny black box with the words Miami Heat 2012 World Champions written on the top. It seemed like the world had gone into a slow motion as I opened the box. Once I had it open, I notice this beautiful championship ring. I then turned to Dwyane in disbelief and asked if it was for me? He simply said pick it up and look at the side of it Chef. So, I did and noticed that he’d not only gotten me a championship ring but had my name engraved on the side of it. He told me how much a part of what I do helped him to become a champion and that I was one as well. It was hands down one of the greatest moments of my career.”
So being a celebrity personal chef is a pretty good gig, eh?
“It is such a blessing to be doing what I love. The saying if you do what you love you’ll never work a day of your life surely applies to me.”
Eating Well to Win, $30.71 at amazon.ca.