Dwyane Wade's Chef Richard Ingraham is a Family Man and a Basketball Fan

Richard Ingraham is quite an accomplished guy. In our first interview with Dwyane Wade's personal chef, we learned about how he got the Heat player into eating lentils and teaching the homeless. During the second half of our meeting, the Miami native discussed staying with his parents when in town, gave us a rundown of a typical meal on game day, and made us hungry by telling us his favorite dessert.

New Times: Did you grow up here, too?

Richard Ingraham: I was born and raised here for 27 years, I lived here before I moved away.

Do you have any fond memories of eating here as a kid? Is there a favorite place you ate at growing up here?

I don't know. My mother and my father and everybody, they cooked so much, we didn't go out a whole lot. One place I do remember, it was a place in Liberty City off of 22nd Avenue, it was called Buckeyes and it was a soul food restaurant, and it was the best looking place, but the food there was just marvelous. It was just great.

Did you grow up in the Liberty City area?

I was born there, and then I moved out to the Carol City area, which is now called Miami Gardens.

I can't keep up with the names! Did your family encourage you to cook, or did you just come to this on your own.

Well, they cooked all the time, so, you couldn't do anything but be encouraged to get in there and try to learn something. But I took to it kind of quickly. At about 10 years old, I tried to cook stuff, but they definitely encourage me now, because they love food. They love cooking, so now that I'm doing it, they encourage me a lot.

And they want you to cook for them now?

Yeah, yeah. Christmas dinner, oh, my goodness, Thanksgiving, all that. I'm the one.

Do you have other hobbies that relate to or not, cooking?

No, not really. I don't have a lot of time for that. I guess right now, my kids would be my hobby, almost, because I play with them a lot when I'm there. I guess the latest hobby would be this new puppy that I just bought for my kids. That'll be the new one. But if I had time, like I used to, I love to fish, I love fishing, I love to shoot pool, I love shopping, I like movies, things like that. So, once I slow down a little bit, I'll be able to get back into those things.

How old are your kids? Are they young?

I have a daughter who's graduating, as a matter of fact, getting ready to go to college, on Friday. I have a son who's 15, and then we have a son that's five and another one that's three.

So, you'll be raising kids forever!

That's right.

Is there something about Atlanta that makes you want them to be raised there?

No, I just thought that it would be good for my kids to see the seasons, just to be able to experience something different, because when I first moved to Atlanta back when I was 27, I was just in awe in looking at the trees, just to see how beautiful it was, not like Miami isn't beautiful, I love it here. But just to be able to experience something different. And I thought it was a great atmosphere for my kids to grow up in. Not Miami isn't, but it definitely was a great atmosphere for my kids to grow up in.

I'm curious about you working on the road, because that seems like it could become all consuming. You're sacrificing quite a lot.

Yeah, I sacrifice quite a bit, as far as family is concerned. I was just asked the other day, how do you do it? And it's all about having a great mate. Someone who understands what you're trying to do and that you're doing it for the purpose of the family. Of course, I love to be on television, and I would love to make X amount of dollars, but actually, everything I'm doing is for my family at the end. So, it's just great that my wife doesn't call and say, I need you to come home now! And stuff like that. She's very understanding.

When you live down here, do you have your own apartment?

Actually, my parents are still here. So, my mom gets to see me, I guess, a little bit, cause I'm gone all the time cooking. I stay with them.

That's awesome. You get to see them more than you would otherwise.

Right. But like I said, I really don't get to see them that much, because I'm gone all the time. But at least they know that I've been in the house. At least they know that.

You go to all the Heat games?

No, actually, I watch them at his home. Which, to be honest with you, I prefer that, because I get to get right in front of the TV and yell and scream, and everything. Then I know at the end of the fourth quarter, I need to get into the kitchen and try to get dinner ready, for when he comes home. That's the reason I don't go a lot, is because he doesn't party a lot. He'd rather come home and just enjoy himself at home. I'm normally there, cooking and preparing meals.

Are you a basketball fan?

Oh, of course. Of course, I am!

[Laughs.] Do you prefer any other sports to basketball?

Boxing, I love boxing. Of course, I like the MMA as well, but I really, really, really like boxing a lot. Football is good, too, but it would definitely be boxing and basketball.

You're here and they're playing the Bulls tonight. What is a typical game day... I'm fascinated by the fact that you're cooking for somebody who not only has their own personal tastes, but who also has to like eat a certain way...

Have a guideline to stick with as far as being able to perform? Yes.

What is a typical menu you'd serve to someone like that, so that someone would understand what to eat? What would someone eat but also keep in good shape?

I understand. Well, like this morning, I made a breakfast sandwich, which was egg whites on whole wheat toast with, I use a sugarless jelly. Instead of using bacon, I use a turkey sausage or a chicken sausage with some low fat cheese. He had that with some pineapples and then a juice, as well. I gave him a little bit of juice which contained broccoli, celery, mangoes, some strawberry in there, as well, just to sweeten it up a little bit. So, that way, he's getting his vitamins. Everything he was getting this morning in order to go out and practice. Then he came home and once he came home, I had a bow tie chicken pasta that I made for him. So, he ate that, then he rests, then get ready to go to the game. And then he has a pre-game meal, he'll either have another type of a pasta or instead he'll have fruit before the game. Then, when he gets home, because he's worked so hard, and his muscles are probably fatigued, I try to give him a nice amount of protein, so normally it'd be something like chicken breast, turkey breast, and even maybe a bison steak or something like that.

That sounds delicious. So, what do you end up eating?

The same thing.

That's cool. You're kind of killing two birds with one stone.


That's really interesting. When you were in school, in Atlanta, did you have any teachers that really inspired you?

I had one professor, his name was Mr. Anderson, a very quiet gentleman, but he was just like a food encyclopedia. I would literally go home and pick words out to try to stump him, and he would always know everything, which is totally amazing to me. He just inspired me. As far as a particular chef that inspired me, not necessarily that taught me, Charlie Trotter from out of Chicago, he really inspired me because he does, and did back then, a lot of things that were different.

What's up for you next?

We're looking at now trying to start our cookbook, eventually we want to put products out on the shelves, some of our sauces, seasonings, things like that. The end project would, of course, probably be a little 50 seat restaurant. Something very nice and quaint.

Would that be in Atlanta?

I really don't know, maybe here or Atlanta.

What kind of food would you serve?

I would call, my style, I call it eclectic American. It'd just be a lot of foods we were used to when we grew up. We'd just add our own little spin to it.

What's your favorite guilty pleasure?

Ice cream.

Do you make ice cream?

I do. I make ice cream. I can make sorbets. I not only do hot food, but I'm a pastry chef, as well, so I can bake cakes and cookies, and all that kind of stuff.

What's your favorite kind of ice cream?

White chocolate, pecan praline. I love it.

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Liz Tracy has written for publications such as the New York Times, the Atlantic, Refinery29, W, Glamour, and, of course, Miami New Times. She was New Times Broward-Palm Beach's music editor for three years. Now she plays one mean monster with her 2-year-old son and obsessively watches British mysteries.
Contact: Liz Tracy