Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s personal chef, Quiana Jeffries, is giving us the dish on what she’s cooking for the champion boxer in preparation for his May 2 match against Manny Pacquiao. Plus: Three Vegas eateries that’ll have you dining like Mayweather in no time.
Quiana Jeffries is living the kind of fairy tale that can only be possible in the age of social media. Personally hired by Floyd Mayweather Jr. after the boxer’s camp saw images of the various culinary creations she had posted on Instagram, the L.A.-raised chef relocated to Vegas last summer and has been cooking for Mayweather on a $1,000-a-plate basis since July (a number she says was decided by Mayweather). We checked in with Jeffries, known as Chef Q, to find out what she’s been serving the undefeated champion as he readies for his May 2 bout against Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
It’s 1 p.m. Have you cooked anything yet today?
QUIANA JEFFRIES: I’ve cooked twice already. I made breakfast—[Floyd] had broccoli, country potatoes, and a turkey kielbasa sausage with barbecue sauce. I also made him teriyaki chicken with pineapple pico de gallo and vegetables.
You’re a recent Vegas transplant, but how did you first get into cooking professionally?
QJ: I got into cooking from my great-grandmother. She was big on cooking—she was the type of great-grandmother who would cook for the family all the time, and she’s from Louisiana, so everything that she was making was from a Southern or Creole background. Very old-school. I never saw her look at a cookbook. Everything she did was off the top of her head and that’s how she taught me.
I was into sports my whole life, so cooking didn’t become my passion until after I went to Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena in 2003. Culinary school didn’t teach me how to cook; it just gave me a broader base and taught me how to fix things if I made a mistake.
I went to school because I wanted to be a personal or private chef. I never wanted to work in a restaurant and I never wanted to work in hotels because I feel like I’m more of a personal, one-on-one chef. To me, cooking in restaurants isn’t as intimate. I like to connect with who I’m cooking for. But when I graduated from college, I went to cook for different hotels, shelters, and restaurants, just to see the flow of things and how things work in different environments.
Floyd eventually connected with you through Instagram. How exactly did that come about?
QJ: I was working for a catering company last year and I just got tired. I got tired of making everybody else money that I could basically just make myself, so I quit my job last June and started focusing more on my own catering. Someone from Instagram that I’d never met before followed me and liked my pictures of the things that I cook and they introduced me to a celebrity life coach named Tony Gaskins. He had me come cook for him for a weekend and during that weekend he started posting pictures of what I made on his Instagram. Floyd’s assistant follows Tony [on Instagram] and was seeing my pictures and at the time they were looking for a chef, so they contacted me one day and told me to come down to Vegas because Floyd wanted to hire me for two months. I came down here from L.A. with my clothes and shoes and never left—his training camp started in July, so I started working for him then. It was only supposed to be for eight weeks, but he says he’s never letting me go.
Did Floyd make you cook for him before he hired you?
QJ: Nope. When he first met me, the first thing he said was that I look young—you know, “How do you have the ability to do what you do cooking-wise when you look so young?” He didn’t believe that I’m 32. He was like, “But you have such a baby face!” People say I look young, but I make them feel like a grandmother is cooking for them because my food is comforting.
When I first came out to Vegas, it was about 4 in the morning. Floyd said, “OK, make me breakfast.” So I made him breakfast—it was [him] and his kids and his assistant. He talks a lot of trash, so he was saying: “You’re kind of an amateur chef. It’s pretty good, but the other chef’s food was better.” In a week, he’d changed his mind: “You’re not an amateur chef; you’re a pro chef.”
Is there a plan or schedule made in advance for what you’re going to cook for him, or is it pretty spontaneous?
QJ: He doesn’t tell me anything. I never know when I’m going to cook or what I’m going to cook until he calls. Like today—he may decide to eat out later on, after his training. He may not need me, but I won’t know that. I don’t have a set schedule. I’m available to him 24/7, so he can call me whenever he wants.
I pretty much know what he likes and doesn’t like, so I stick to those things. He’s a very simple guy. He may ask for a lot, but he’s not difficult: “Oh, I want caviar and octopus.”
What are some of his favorite dishes for you to cook?
QJ: I’d definitely say tacos or spaghetti. He likes everything to be organic, so he eats a lot of different organic meats. He loves Caribbean food, so I usually make him oxtails—he eats oxtails once every few weeks—and he loves gumbo. I make that at least once a week. He also loves fried chicken and steak.
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Does he ever have cheat days?
QJ: He eats fast food, but he’s cut it out a lot during his training camp. Fatburger is his spot. During his last training camp, we were going to Fatburger at least once or twice a week, but we haven’t been going as much during this training camp. He’ll even eat a Big Mac here and there. He’s really not a difficult person—he eats normal, regular food, like Top Ramen.
Is there anything you usually make for him right before or after he trains?
QJ: I juice for him a lot. Everything that he eats is something that he knows is going to rebuild his system. He’s at a level where he knows his body, so he knows what his body can take and what to eat. He knows what his body needs more than what I’d be able to tell him. Juicing is a good way for him to get more nutrients in his body at one time. I can give him a quart of juice and it’ll have four apples, four pears, a whole pineapple, and some spinach. He drinks a lot of his nutrients and vitamins to replenish his body—actually, the main thing he asks for is juice.
What do you like to cook for yourself?
QJ: I eat out more than anything. By the time that I get home, I don’t even want to cook. I also end up eating whatever I’m cooking at his house, but if I’m off, I have to get back in the mood to cook. I love to make a breakfast fried rice with maple sausage, rice, and some egg. For dinner, I love a good steak and potatoes with broccoli—things that don’t take very much time to cook. I wouldn’t be about to make myself some oxtail.
You’re working on a cookbook right now, but what else do you see yourself doing after this particular fight is over? Do you want to continue cooking for celebrities?
QJ: I’ve been working on something for years, but I’m taking my time with it. I want it to not be just a cookbook. I want it to be something positive that you read when you’re having a bad day. Something that’s funny and inspirational, not just a basic, boring cookbook—it definitely has to have some personality to it.
I can honestly say I do see myself continuing to cook for celebrities, and not even just for celebrities, but also for anybody who’s willing to know my worth. For years, I’ve been taken advantage of in terms of my worth and my ability to be creative in the kitchen. I’m big on being positive and inspirational—I didn’t have a hard life coming up, but I know that a lot of people are inspired by me because I’m just a regular girl.
Where Does Mayweather Go Out to Eat?
Even without your own Chef Q, you can still eat like Floyd Mayweather Jr. at some of his favorite Vegas restaurants:
In March, Mayweather commented that he’d like Gordon Ramsay to cook for him personally at the celebrity chef’s Caesars Palace restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill, after the boxer’s fight with Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Whether or not that’ll actually happen is still up for debate, but in the meantime, you can get a taste of the good life at Ramsay’s Caesars restaurant, or one of his other two outposts at Paris Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood. 3570 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 877-346-4642
According to Chef Q, one of the restaurants that Mayweather frequents most often is locals’ best-kept secret Musashi Japanese Steakhouse, which Jeffries describes as “a Benihana-type place where they cook on a grill in front of you.” 3900 Paradise Rd., Ste. W, 702-735-4744
He famously brawled with rapper T.I. at the Strip-facing Fatburger in May 2014, but if anything has stopped Mayweather from regularly visiting the fast-food chain, it’s his rigorous training regimen. The restaurant recently returned the boxer’s admiration by debuting the Floydburger, a sandwich made with all-organic beef, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, relish, and special sauce. 3763 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 702-736-4733
PHOTOGRAPHY VIA INSTAGRAM.COM/CHEFISM