It’s been a month since the Toronto Raptors made history at the NBA championships. With many players taking well-deserved vacations abroad to celebrate their accomplishment, one beloved member is coming home. The first thing he’s doing? Feeding hungry Canadians.
As a team of many talents beyond the basketball court, power forward and center player, Serge Ibaka, is definitely the group’s gourmand.
Now, the NBA champion is giving the public a taste. He’ll be dishing mystery flavours for hungry crowds at the first Square One Night Market in Mississauga, Ont., taking place on July 26.
On his YouTube cooking show, “How Hungry Are You?,” Ibaka has served up mouth-watering delights to his teammates and friends for two seasons.
From stinky tofu with Jeremy Lin to beef penis with former teammate Kawhi Leonard, the Congolese athlete has made it his mission to promote diverse cultural cuisine.
Are all of his guests as open as he is? Debatable, but there’s no denying Ibaka’s love of food is the heart of the series.
What’s Serge serving?
Jordi Vila, one of Ibaka’s managers, couldn’t divulge what MaFuzzy Chef was cooking up. But he hints that it’ll be an “international” menu that attendees will be sampling; a menu that the ball player can’t wait to share with locals.
“It feels like it’s been a long time [since the NBA championships],” Vila said. “He’s excited to be back in Canada and see the fans.”
While Vila was tight-lipped about Friday’s event, we’ve got some theories on what Ibaka might have simmering.
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As reported by Vice, the basketball player’s favourite food is fumbwa. The Congolese stew is made of spinach, often featuring peanuts or peanut butter. Outside of the Congo, Ibaka trusts one place to satisfy his cravings. Ma Yvé Grill in Pickering, Ont. is his go-to for Congolese cooking in the Toronto area, the Toronto Star discovered.
Maybe fried rice will be a slam dunk with attendees. Ibaka has been known to order the dish at well-known Chinese restaurant and late-night spot in Toronto, Rol San, after a game.
Night market tickets are sold out, but if you were lucky enough to snag one, you’ll be eating for a good cause. All proceeds will go towards the Serge Ibaka Foundation, which helps children get healthy and educated.
Power forward pays it forward
The foundation already has a plan for where the night market’s sales will help those most in need.
Earlier this year, Ibaka and his foundation teamed up with Regent Park Community Food Centre to serve thousands of healthy meals for food-insecure individuals living in the east Toronto neighbourhood.
“I grew up extremely poor in the Congo and I learned what hunger and homelessness were as a child. I was surprised to see so many people living on Toronto’s streets. It was difficult to understand how poverty and hunger could exist in such a wealthy city,” he said in a statement in March.
Because of how successful that initiative has been, Vila said the foundation has pledged for all proceeds raised from the night market to go towards their existing partnership.
When asked if Canadians can expect to sample more cooking appearances from Ibaka, Vila suggested it was a possibility.
“We’re getting a lot of requests. He’s travelling quite a lot in the summer, so it’s difficult to make it work. This particular [partnership with Square One] happened to work out perfectly,” Vila said.
The meaning of ‘MaFuzzy’
Self-nicknamed “MaFuzzy” Chef, Ibaka has used the mysterious moniker throughout his Youtube show and has insinuated that he might reveal the meaning ... someday.
Ibaka’s manager couldn’t say he knew what it means, but he had a pretty good guess.
“It means to carry yourself with passion and working towards your dreams,” Vila said. “Something like that, that’s my interpretation.”
It might be a while until MaFuzzy Chef himself shares his definition, but the importance of expanding gourmet horizons and keeping stomachs full is something Ibaka has been very clear about.
“We come from different places, different cultures, different foods,” Ibaka told the Bleacher Report. “Some foods you may say, ‘Oh wow, this is not food.’ People actually eat that somewhere. I just want people to really understand that and really appreciate it.”
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