The Toronto Raptors are the NBA champs for the first time, and it’s paying dividends even for non-basketball people like yours truly. Everyone’s basking in the reflected glory: The people seem friendlier, everyone’s wearing matching shirts, fast-food places are giving away free snacks, and I’ve gotten to watch that Twitter video of Kawhi Leonard doing a perfect goofy dad dance like 15 times.
Mostly, however, the increased citywide awareness of the Raptors and their star players has turned me on to the cooking talents (or the lack thereof, according to a couple of his teammates) of Serge Ibaka.
Ibaka, as it turns out, is a man of many hobbies. In addition to turning the hallways of the
Air Canada Centre Scotiabank Arena into a goddamned Parisian runway during the playoff run, he also hosts a delightful YouTube series called How Hungry Are You? that’s equal parts cooking show and laid-back interview series, with a slight prankish twist.
Each episode follows a similar formula. Inside a rented condo (no, that’s not Ibaka’s real kitchen), the self-styled “Mafuzzy Chef” unveils the episode’s special ingredient, a lineup that, so far, has included lamb brains, crickets, beef testicles, and stinky tofu (a special pick for Jeremy Lin, who apparently loathes all things bean-curd-related).
Ibaka prepares the dish, shot from above Tasty-style, then sets it all aside while he peppers his guests (including Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Pau and Marc Gasol, and more) with questions about their lives off and on the court, allowing viewers to watch the players bond in real time.
Ibaka uses his warm, disarming manner to put guests at ease, occasionally steering the conversations into more emotional, off-the-cuff territory than what you’d normally get at a post-game presser. (See: Ibaka opening up about DeMar DeRozan getting traded, or asking Leonard, point-blank, if he’s planning to stay in Toronto after the playoff run.)
Finally, Ibaka whips the dome off the daily special, cheerfully breezing past his guests’ protestations. It might be here that you get the clearest window into the personalities of Ibaka’s guests: The Gasol boys accepted their slices of beef heart politely, Lin turned the tables by bringing Ibaka an order of chicken feet, and Leonard gamely sampled his meal completely straight-faced.
“I was gonna try anything you made,” Leonard told Ibaka, which might be the truest testament to the power of the Mafuzzy Chef. As NOW music editor and actual Raps fan Richard Trapunski put it: “He got Kawhi to eat beef penis pizza. That’s how we know he’s staying.”
Check out Ibaka’s YouTube channel here.
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