In just under two weeks’ time, undefeated five-division boxing champion Floyd Mayweather will take on eight-division champ Manny Pacquiao in the most lucrative fight in history.
Both boxers are estimated to be taking home more than $100 million each in combined pay and endorsements for a fight that’s been brewing since 2010.
Mayweather gets the big end of a 60-40 purse split, but famously shuns personal endorsements, opting instead to co-promote his own fights and drive pay-per-view income. Pacquiao will cash in higher on the sponsorship of the ledger.
So it’s probably not surprising Mayweather is prepared to pay $1000 a meal for personal service leading up to the fight. But it’s still a huge deal for the person preparing the meals around the clock, Chef Q, who goes by the Instagram handle @chefism.
We spoke to Chef Q this week about what it’s like to be in Mayweather’s camp in Las Vegas as he prepares for one of the most hyped fights of this era.
Her real name is Quiana S Jefferies. She was born in Los Angeles and grew up preferring basketball to cooking, apart from that of her great-grandmother Inez Shoemaker, who Jefferies said was a great influence on her life.
“She was from Louisiana so I learned all the southern dishes,” Jefferies says.
“She didn’t go by recipes and measurements. She just knew how much of each ingredient to mix together. And that’s how she taught me.”
When college sport didn’t work out in 2002 for Jefferies, she took up Culinary Arts Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. and found classical techniques combined with her grandmother’s influence made for a winning combination.
After doing her time in hotels, shelters, restaurants and catering companies, Jefferies decided to start posting her creations under @chefism. Here’s her amazing story since then:
She got into some TV slots, including restaurateur Guy Fieri’s reality show Guy’s Grocery Games.
“That was a year ago and all I can say is look at me now,” she says. “I never gave up and I kept going.”
But her big break came when she found a fan in celebrity life coach Tony Gaskins.
Mayweather’s assistant noticed Jefferies’ food on Gaskin’s social feeds and asked her to join Mayweather at his training camp in Las Vegas for his second fight last year against Marcos Maidana.
“The very next day I packed up my car with all of my clothes and drove to Vegas with the anticipation of working for champ for the next eight weeks only,” she says.
Mayweather liked her food so much, she’s never left his side since.
“I have my own place right down the street from champ,” she says. “He calls me whenever he needs me. When I say whenever, I mean whenever. It could be 3am and if he wants oxtails I go and make him oxtails.
“I am available to him 24 hours a day 7 days a week.”
Mayweather has several favourite meals, including organic beef tacos:
Any type of pasta but “mainly spaghetti with homemade sauce”:
This was the very first meal I made for #Champ…Boy OH boy wasn't he AMPED…He said #CHEF that #Spaghetti Bake was so Effin Great IMA GIVE YOU A 1000 Dollarz ahhh plate #BARS #BeInspired #CheckMate #Irap2 #BookMEforFutureEvents #MixTape #DroppinSoon #Drake #WHO #Oprah #CallMe #TMT #TBE #Mayweather #HisChef
Note the reference to “a $1000 a plate”, a quote which has been widely reported in recent weeks as Mayweather preapres for the fight of his life.
“I didn’t come up with that price, he did,” Jefferies says.
“He said I was the total package and the price isn’t just because of my delectable dishes.
“He loves my ambition and my attitude.”
Mayweather also prefers “any type of cajun fish, organic BBQ shredded beef or gumbo”.
But the dish that gets more mentions than any other is oxtails, preferably “smothered in gravy with mash potatoes and broccoli”.
“A $1000 plate… worth the 6 hour wait,” Jefferies commented on that post.
It’s a demanding job – Jefferies literally has to be by Mayweather’s side as soon as she’s called, and could find herself cooking for just the man himself, or up to 50 people at 2am.
“But I love every minute of it,” she says. “He expects nothing but the best from me.”
“He eats whatever he likes but his diet is high in protein, low in carbs and lots of vegetables.
“I juice organic fruits and vegetables to go with each meal so he is getting the proper nutrients and vitamins to rebuild his system before and after each workout.”
As for life after the big fight on May 2 in Las Vegas, Jefferies says she’ll stay on working and travelling with champ, but using her time in the spotlight to build her own brand.
She won’t give us any recipes just yet – there’s a cookbook on the way – and hopes to have her own TV show.
“My dream is to meet Oprah and have a show on her OWN network,” she says.
“I will be Champ’s Private Chef forever though – (his words!)”
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