Every now and then, TMZ does a good thing. Without it, we might never have known about Ray Rice's penchant for domestic violence, or Donald Sterling's less-than-charitable opinions on African Americans.
We also might not have heard about Chef Q—a.k.a. Quiana Jeffries—the personal chef to world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather. Last month, TMZ called attention to a video in which Mayweather boasted that he paid Chef Q $1,000 per plate during his sprint to get fitter than ever for his much-buzzed-about bout with Manny Pacquiao on May 2.
But there's a lot more to Chef Q than her client, who just so happens to be the highest-paid professional athlete in the world (his net worth is estimated to be $300 million) and who signs his contracts with an 18-karat gold pen. All of that is window dressing, however, that obscures the woman behind the champ—a chef who enjoys cooking for womens' shelters as much as she does wealthy, eccentric boxers.
I called up Chef Q to find out more about her day-to-day routine, and her plans for the future if and when Mayweather KOs Pacquiao.
MUNCHIES: Hi, Quiana. So, what's it like cooking for Floyd? Quiana Jeffries, a.k.a Chef Q: His schedule is crazy. I got home at 7:30 this morning.
Wow. What's you typical day like? Really, there isn't a typical day. He trains in the afternoon—he sleeps before he trains—and he'll be done with training around 7 or 8ish. He might have me come over from 9 all the way until the next day. I'll make him something to eat after he trains, then he'll eat again maybe three hours later, and then he'll eat again maybe three hours later after that. Usually, I'll make him between two to three meals a day. But sometimes, he does eat out.
What are some of his favorite foods right now? Anything that is high in protein, low carbs, and a lot of vegetables. He loves oxtails, meatloaf, baked chicken, fish—anything that is not pork. He doesn't eat pork. And he doesn't eat bread or anything. He's not trying to gain weight—he's trying to maintain, so it balances out with the lean meat and the vegetables. I juice for him, so every day he has a juice. He lays off the soda, and he drinks a lot of water.
My grandmother never had recipes; everything was off the top of her head. That's how she showed me to cook. Sometimes when people ask me how to do certain things, I can never give really proper measurements.
What's his preferred juice? I usually do different combinations of pineapple, apple, strawberries, oranges and raspberry. And I might throw a bit of spinach or kale in it.
How did you get started in cooking? My great-grandmother started teaching me when I was around ten. She was the one who actually put the pot in my hand and taught me the foundation of cooking. It was Southern Creole because she was from Louisiana, so we ate a lot of soul food.
My grandmother never had recipes; everything was off the top of her head. That's how she showed me to cook. Sometimes when people ask me how to do certain things, I can never give really proper measurements—it's just, "Add this, add this, add that, and taste."
I was into sports all my life, so I really didn't think too much about cooking until after college. I ended up going to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena in 2002. I graduated in 2005, and from there the passion grew even more. When I initially went to school, I wanted to be a personal chef—I didn't really want to be in restaurants or hotels. But I did start off in hotels, and then I moved into working in restaurants, and then into catering. I was actually working for a catering company before I was working for Floyd, making anywhere between 1,200 to 1,500 meals a day. Now when Floyd asks me to make food for 50 people, I'm like, "OK, I got that. That's nothing."
Cooking for women in shelters was like a prize—to cook for someone that you know needed a little picker-upper in their life.
Before you started your catering business, which restaurants were you cooking at in LA? One was called Otis Jackson's Soul Dog. I helped them open up their restaurant and I was their executive chef. Another restaurant was M'Dear's Bakery & Bistro; it was another Southern-style restaurant. That's really it. I didn't jump off into any corporate restaurants, mainly because it wasn't my style. To me, that's kind of boring because I don't want to go in and do steaks all day. That's why I always stuck with smaller restaurants or cooking at hotels or shelters—shelters were actually my favorite job.
How did you get involved with shelters? My grandmother on my dad's side runs three women's shelters. She needed a chef and I just helped her out. The reason I like the shelters so much is because it's a personal experience and each woman has a different story. I got to learn about different people and the things that they went through. For me, cooking for them was like a prize—to cook for someone that you know needed a little picker-upper in their life.
We had a small budget, so it was hard to cook steaks and gourmet meals. When you think of shelters, you think of sloppy food. But I tried to make whatever our budget was work—make something you know they can enjoy in bulk, like turkey meatloaf. I had to be creative using different low-cost items.
How did you meet Floyd? I was working for these different places, and then I quit my job and started focusing on myself. I just took a leap of faith and started my catering company. I built my clientele and was doing catering for a couple of months before I got to Floyd. Someone recommended me to do catering for a celebrity life coach named Tony Gaskins. He was posting photos of my food on Instagram and Floyd's assistant saw my food on his page. She got my info from Tony, called me and asked me to come to Vegas. It was just supposed to be for the training camp for two months—this was July of last year—but I haven't left. He likes my personality and my food.
I am available to this man 24/7, so it balances because he can call me at 2 AM and want a five-course meal, and I have to produce this five-course meal for 50 people at 2 or 3 in the morning.
So, we have to talk about the $1,000-per-plate thing. You see, I never set the price on how much he's going to pay—he set the price. The way the video came about is because we were just talking in the kitchen and somebody was videotaping. Floyd found out I had cooked for someone and didn't charge them, as a favor. He was just like, "How are you going to charge me and not charge somebody else?" He told me he was going to pay me that much because, one, he wanted to pay me how much he thought I was worth, two, he loves my food and three, he really likes my personality. He said—these were his words—even if my food was mediocre, he would still keep me because of my personality. I'm a positive person and he loves my energy.
So, he set the price, which is crazy because I don't normally charge that much, but I do know my worth. And you do have to understand that I am available to this man 24/7, so it balances because he can call me at 2 AM and want a five-course meal, and I have to produce this five-course meal for 50 people at 2 or 3 in the morning.
When you do have time to yourself, what do you cook? I'm not even going to lie—I usually eat out. By the time I get off, I'm so lazy and don't want to do anything that I end up ordering something. But I still try to crack open different recipes, try to enhance my skills, taking soul food and Creole food and making them healthy. A lot of people think soul food is fattening or greasy. I try to do healthy comfort food.
On Instagram, you posted the first thing you ever cooked for Floyd—the spaghetti bake. That does look heavy. Yes, that's one of the heavy dishes. He loves spaghetti. He'll have that on a cheat day. On the weekends, he just eats whatever he wants anyway. He might want Fatburger or fried chicken.
Are you supposed to keep his diet in check like a trainer, or do you just have to indulge whatever he wants? If he calls me at 3 AM saying he wants brownies—which, nine times out of ten, he won't—but if he does, I'll be like, "Are you sure you want brownies? Are you OK?" If he does want brownies it'll be because somebody else wants them. He's not a sweets person. He likes candy—especially Twizzlers—but he never really eats desserts. I'm just here to cook what he wants and to help guide him, but at the end of the day he knows exactly what he can and can't eat.
So, after Floyd, what's next for you? He should be done fighting in a year, maybe. His last fight will supposedly be done in September. But no one knows for sure. After that, I want to do a cookbook and have some type of reality cooking show. I always put Oprah out there because I want to be on her OWN network and I want to meet her one day. She knows her own worth, and I appreciate a woman knowing her own worth, because in this day and in this field a lot of women get overlooked.
I've gotten a lot of positive messages and I've gotten some negative messages, but most of the negative is from chefs that hate me because they wish they could get $1,000 a plate, too. A lot of positive messages are people saying that if I can do it, they can do it. I'm just a regular, normal girl from LA who followed her dreams. It took time for me to get to this level, but I got here.
Thanks for speaking with me, Quiana.