The Palm Beach Post/ Meet the chef who turned Dwyane Wade into a veggie fan
October 24

The Palm Beach Post/ Meet the chef who turned Dwyane Wade into a veggie fan

Liz Balmaseda

6:03 a.m. Monday, Oct. 16, 2017

When Chef Richard Ingraham talks about NBA star Dwyane Wade’s progress, he’s not referring to the former Miami Heat shooting guard’s dunks. He’s referring to broccoli.

Wade loved his food fried and/or smothered. His idea of a side dish was gravy. And he loved his lemonade as sweet as possible. 

Ingraham, who has worked as the Wade family’s personal chef for the past 12 years, says there came a moment when he felt the need to bring up the veggie topic. 

“I was cooking everything, from smothered pork chops to fried chicken. But at some point you have to take responsibility for your clients. I started to have conversations about bringing in more vegetables, less butter. I tried to preach portion size and moderation,” says Ingraham, author of the newly released cookbook “Eating Well to Win: Inspired Living Through Inspired Cooking” (Mango Publishing. $24.95). 

A famously picky eater, Wade took some convincing. But Ingraham decided to let his skillet do the preaching. 

“He would say certain things he didn’t like, like vegetables and seafood. I saw it as my job to make healthy foods taste good, healthy foods that he was sure to enjoy,” Ingraham says on a recent day by phone from the Wade home in Chicago, just before the family (and the chef himself) moved to Cleveland for the basketball star’s debut with the Cavaliers. 

Something clicked and it clicked early on. In the cookbook’s foreword, Wade thanks Chef “Rich” for helping him “gain a better understanding of food, health and nutrition.” Wade also gave Ingraham this rave blurb: “Chef knows how to incorporate the healthiest foods that will provide me the strength and energy needed when I hit the basketball court.” 

That said, Ingraham’s cookbook showcases a range of dishes, from the purely healthful to the outright decadent. (Hello, s’mores and red velvet cupcakes!)

In fact, the chef has received raves for his diverse cooking from Wade’s movie-star wife, Gabrielle Union, who counts on Ingraham to help keep her in shape for her TV (BET’s “Being Mary Jane”) and film roles. 

Cooking for A-List celebrities is something that seemed out of reach for a child born in Miami’s Liberty City and raised in hardscrabble Miami Gardens. In fact, cooking was not the first career Ingraham embraced. After attending Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Ingraham returned to Miami and enrolled in cosmetology school. “I did hair for about eight years,” he says. 

But, truth be told, his great love was cooking, and he never looked back when he made the move to Atlanta to attend culinary school. He recalls the feeling as he arrived at the Art Institute of Atlanta: 

“I looked through those big windows and saw those students in their white uniforms, cooking. I knew that was the place I needed to be. I signed my life away with all those student loans, but it was worth it,” says Ingraham, who later worked at Atlanta-area restaurants and taught culinary arts to poor students. 

When he returned to Miami, he continued to teach the poor, this time at one of the city’s largest homeless shelters. For his work with the underprivileged, Ingraham earned a “Teacher of the Year” award. 

It was a confirmation that he should allow the love for cooking he had learned as a child from his mother and grandmother to be his path. He kept close the memories of waking at 3 a.m. on Christmas morning to help his grandmother turn the turkey roasting in the oven, memories of making “the hams and the yams and greens” until he tapped into the same “innate behavior” that seemed to power his mother on weeknights. 

“My mom would come home after work. She’d take her clothes off and cook in her slip. She would not go to her bedroom. She was so tired, she knew she’d fall asleep if she did. We would sit around the table, talk about our day and just fellowship,” he recalls. 

Through his mother, he came to understand the greater part of cooking.

“It’s that instant gratification you get when you feed someone, when you see that expression of love and gratitude. You can make them feel a certain way with your cooking. Food changes a person,” says the chef. 

The call that would change his life came from a good friend, circa 2005: How would he like to play for an NBA player? It was like “winning the lotto,” the chef recalls. 

Shortly thereafter, Ingraham would go work for Wade – and Wade would employ his very first personal chef. 

Fast-forward to 2017: Ingraham stocks the Wade family pantry with the same mindset the basketball star uses to approach season – with strategies and options. Seasonings -- the flair moves -- are front and center. 

“You’ll always find some Creole seasoning, some ponzu. I love smoked paprika, cumin and curry,” says Ingraham. “In the fridge, you’ll find Dijon mustard, fresh fruit, lots of water and vegetables, of course. And chicken broth. I don’t believe in cooking with water because it has no flavor at all. I use all sorts of broth in my dishes.” 

Those special seasonings will be put to good use as Wade settles into Cleveland, where he will play with good friend Lebron James – another star Ingraham has regaled with his cooking. 

“I went on the road (with Wade) one time and Lebron was there as well. I prepared dinner for them. I made some really nice steaks, ribeye steaks. I don’t remember the rest, but I know we finished off with chocolate chip cookies. They’re a favorite of Lebron’s,” says Ingraham. “You have to let people indulge.” 

Wade calls the chocolate chip cookies “those doggone cookies” – and they’re not the only decadent bites that occasionally appear on his table, the chef confesses. 

So what are some of Wade’s guilty-pleasure dishes? 

“He loves fried chicken. If I do some fried chicken and mashed potatoes, and serve them with a Coca-Cola, he’s like, ‘Oh, my God, it must be my birthday!’” says Ingraham, who adds that not all favorites are overly indulgent. 

“Right now, one of (Wade’s) favorite dishes I prepare is an oven-roasted sea bass with butternut squash puree and a nice garlic-ginger ponzu sauce. When he comes in and sees it, he loves it.” 

And it’s seafood. 

“Yes,” says the chef. “Progress!”  


The following recipes are adapted from the book “Eating Well to Win: Inspired Living Through Inspired Cooking,” by Chef Richard Ingraham with permission of its publisher, Mango Publishing.  

Spicy Lobster and Sweet Potato Grits 

Serves 4

For Lobster 

1 tablespoon grape seed oil 

4 ounces turkey andouille sausage, sliced 

1 ½ teaspoons Creole seasoning 

2 medium lobster tails, split and meat completely removed and chopped from one tail 

1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1 medium shallot, minced 

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 1 tablespoon celery, minced 

1 ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes 

1 cup fire-roasted tomatoes 

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 

2 teaspoons fresh thyme

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper 

For Grits 

1 tablespoon unsalted butter 

¼ cup onions, chopped 

4 cups chicken broth 

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning 

½ teaspoon cinnamon 

¼ teaspoon nutmeg 

1 cup uncooked yellow grits 

1 cup heavy cream 

2 tablespoons butter 

1 sweet potato, roasted and mashed 

½ cup smoked Gouda cheese 

Make the Lobster 

1. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat, and brown sausage turning frequently to ensure even cooking. 

2. Remove sausage from the pan using a slotted spoon, and drain on a paper-towel lined baking pan. 

3. Pour out all but ½ tablespoon of oil from the pan, and return to the stove over medium heat. 

4. Raise the temperature of the pan to medium-high heat, and add lobster to the pan. 

5. Cook lobster just enough so that it begins to brown. 

6. Remove lobster from the pan, place in a bowl and reserve. 

7. Return the pan to the stove, and reduce the heat to medium. 

8. Add butter to the pan. Once the butter starts to foam, add in the shallots, garlic, celery and red pepper flakes. Stir often until the mixture is slightly softened. 

9. Add fire-roasted tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce. 

10. Stir until tomatoes begin to release their juices. This normally takes about five minutes. 

11. Add reserved lobster and sausage to the pan, and cook until lobster is warmed through. 

12. Add fresh thyme, and adjust seasonings. 

Make the Grits 

1. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a medium saucepot over medium heat. 

2. Add onions, and stir often until onions soften. 

3. Pour in broth and bring to a boil over high heat. 

4. Once broth reaches a rolling boil, pour in the grits. Whisk the grits as you pour them in to prevent lumps. 

5. Add in cinnamon, Creole seasoning and nutmeg. 

6. Stir the grits until the mixture comes back up to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. 

7. Place a lid on top, and let simmer. 

8. Combine the mashed sweet potato and cream in a medium bowl, and mix into a puree. 

9. After the grits have cooked, remove the lid and stir in the sweet potato mixture until well blended. 

10. Finish by adding the butter and smoked Gouda. Taste and adjust seasonings. Spoon over the lobster, and serve hot.  

Miso Roasted Sea Bass with Ginger Garlic Broccoli Rabe 

Serves 4

For Sea Bass 

Four 6-ounce sea bass fillets 

1/3 cup sake 

1/3 cup mirin 

2 teaspoons ginger juice 

1/3 cup light miso 

3 tablespoons brown sugar 

2 tablespoons ponzu 

For Broccoli Rabe 

3 bunches broccoli rabe 

3 tablespoons grape seed oil 

4 garlic cloves, sliced 

3 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced 

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 

Make the Sea Bass 

1. Mix sake, mirin, ginger, miso, brown sugar and ponzu in a small bowl. 

2. Place sea bass in a large Ziploc bag. 

3. Pour all but two tablespoons of the miso marinade over the sea bass, and refrigerate overnight. 

4. Remove the sea bass from the marinade, and wipe off any excess marinade. 

5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

6. Preheat an outdoor grill or stovetop grill plate. 

7. Place the fish on the grill, and lightly grill on both sides until the surface caramelizes. 

8. Transfer the fish fillets to a rimmed baking sheet. 

9. Place the sea bass in the oven, and bake until just opaque in center. This typically takes about 8 to 10 minutes. 

Make the Broccoli Rabe 

1. Cut off and discard the tough ends of the broccoli rabe, and cut the rest of into two-inch pieces. 

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. 

3. Cook broccoli rabe in boiling water until al dente. 

4. Drain and shock the broccoli rabe by plunging it into ice water bath. This will stop the broccoli rabe from continuing to cook. 

5. Drain the broccoli rabe well. 

6. Heat the grape seed oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 

7. Add broccoli rabe, ginger, red pepper flakes and garlic, and stir until thoroughly heated. 

8. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper. 

9. Arrange broccoli rabe on a serving platter, and top with sea bass. 


10. Finish by drizzling reserved marinade over the sea bass.  

S’mores Pancakes 

Makes 4 to 8 servings, to taste

For Pancakes 

2 cups white, whole-wheat flour 

2 teaspoons baking powder 

1 teaspoon baking soda 

4 tablespoons cacao powder (this is a healthier option than cocoa) 

1 teaspoon salt 

1 ½ teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract 

2 tablespoons maple syrup 

2 cups buttermilk 

2/3 cup mini chocolate chips 

1 cup medium marshmallows 

1 sheet graham crackers, crushed

Special Equipment: kitchen torch for marshmallows 

For Chocolate Syrup 

2 cups honey 

1 cup cacao powder 

2 cups water 

1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract 

¼ teaspoon salt 

Make Chocolate Syrup 

1. Pour honey, cacao, water and salt into a medium saucepan, and cook over high heat stirring until dissolved. 

2. Bring mixture to a boil. 

3. Lower heat to medium, and simmer, stirring constantly. 

4. When the syrup reaches the desired thickness, remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Allow syrup to cool before use. 

Make the Pancakes 

1. Place marshmallows on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Ignite the torch and move steadily back and forth over the surface of the marshmallow topping until it’s toasted to your satisfaction. If your parchment paper flames up, move the torch and blow out the fire. Reserve until ready to use. 

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl, and mix well. 

3. In a separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients. 

4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients. Mix just until combined. 

5. Fold in chocolate chips. 

6. Pour ¼ cup of the pancake batter onto a hot, lightly oiled griddle. 

7. Cook for one to two minutes then flip pancakes once air bubbles begin to rise to the surface. 


8. Plate hot pancakes, and garnish with graham crackers, toasted marshmallows and chocolate sauce.  

‘Those Doggone Cookies’ 

This recipe is included within a larger recipe for what is the most dazzling dessert in Ingraham’s book: Chocolate Chip Cookie and Bacon Red Velvet Waffles with Milk Chocolate Ice Cream. This cookie component delivers a bite that’s not only a Dwyane Wade favorite – it’s also a Lebron James favorite. (We’ll publish the full recipe soon.) 

For Cookies 

2 cups all-purpose flour 

½ teaspoon baking soda 

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

1 teaspoon salt 1 cup unsalted butter 

2 cups packed brown sugar 

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract 

2 large eggs 

3 cups chocolate chunks (semi-sweet, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate) 

Make the Cookies 

1. Preheat your oven to 350. 

2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. 

3. Place unsalted butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and beat until light and creamy. 

4. Scrape the bowl to make sure all ingredients are combined. 

5. Add vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

6. Gradually beat in flour mixture. 

7. Stir in chocolate chunks. 

8. Using a medium cookie scoop, place cookie dough onto silk, pad-lined baking sheets. 

9. Bake for 12-13 minutes, or until golden brown. 

10. Place cookies on wire racks to cool completely.