Shaquille O’Neal, Who Poached Hyatt’s Top Chef to be His Personal Cook, Puts Peculiar Eating Habits On Display With 26YO Influencer

Published 09/12/2023, 9:30 AM EDT

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Shaq, trying his best to remain unfazed after eating an extra spicy chip, is a clip that we all are familiar with. Imagine the nightmare he would have gone through if foods like those started to appear on his regular diet! Thus, the 7’1″ giant, Shaquille O’Neal, wants his food a certain way.

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Bobbi Althoff tried to get to the bottom of Shaq’s eating style. He is very particular about his food and has professionals on top of his eating preferences. And when Big Shaq can’t get top professionals, as he revealed to Althoff, he takes matters into his own hands.

Shaquille O’Neal silences with his ‘extra’ eating preference

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After introducing Bobbi Althoff to the “BPD,” Shaquille O’Neal worked up an appetite and stated what he was going to eat after the interview. “Two club sandwiches, fries,… with extra mayo on the side.” Rewind. Extra mayo on the side? The influencer was just as confused about it.

She asked him a few times if he’s going to put the extra sauce in the sandwich himself. “Why wouldn’t you just ask for them to do that? That feels like hard work for you.” O’Neal actually had a very valid answer. “Because they don’t know what my extra is.”

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By ‘they’, he meant the staff at whichever place that would have to cater to Shaquille O’Neal after a long day of being hilarious. If you’re not used to serving ‘Big Aristotle’ on the regular, it’s understandable you’d not know what he wants. Nonetheless, Althoff, who might be dealing with food tantrums of her two daughters, was curious about how the millionaire gets his requirements met.

The answer is a professional chef, of course. When asked if he has a chef to handle his needs, O’Neal said, “Yes, I do. But your extra and my extra might be two different extras.”

O’Neal does have a personal chef to meet his dietary demands. But at this point in time, his chef was not nearby. “You didn’t bring him?” After the four-time NBA champion answered in the negative, Althoff slyly added, “You can’t afford to?” Again, O’Neal answered in the negative.

She reasoned that O’Neal wants to go back to playing basketball so he can earn enough to pay for his personal chef to accompany him everywhere and cater to his needs. After all, his chef is no small fry.

O’Neal poached a culinary star for his kitchen

Thomas Gosney is a celebrated chef in the industry who’s authored cookbooks. Decades ago, he led the pass at Hyatt in Orlando when Shaquille O’Neal was the new recruit of Orlando Magic. He served a double-decker sandwich to the young NBA pro, and O’Neal hired him on the spot.

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Gosney was instrumental in developing a dietary plan that enabled O’Neal’s athletic performance. The Los Angeles Lakers even gave the chef his own championship rings for improving the diets of Shaq and the team. They’d part ways as the NBA legend’s career surged, but O’Neal would still talk about how Gosney kept up with his demands.

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O’Neal actually doesn’t try out different things. He usually had the same order wherever he went and ate the same thing before a game. Chef Gosney met all his preferences. His menu development team at Big Chicken Shaq would also testify that O’Neal has a go-to meal at any of their franchises.

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Do you relate to Shaq’s eating preferences? Let us know about your take in the comments below.

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Written by:

Caroline John

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Caroline John is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. She has been covering athletes outside the sports arena since the start of her reporting career. A writer at heart, she graduated with a degree in journalism from a reputed university.
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Edited by:

Debmallya Chakraborty

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