02/27/2013 12:50 EST | Updated 04/29/2013 05:12 EDT

Wayne Gretzky's Chef: A Great One In His Own Right

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LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 30: National Hockey League Hall of Fame player Wayne Gretzky arrives at the 11th annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational gala at the Aria Resort & Casino at CityCenter March 30, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for MJCI)

The night Beau MacMillan first cooked for Wayne Gretzky, he was the one who was given Hall of Fame treatment.

"We were in the kitchen finishing up and Wayne comes in and says, 'You guys have to join us.' We declined but he insisted, saying, 'You guys don't understand. If you don't join us, my wife's going to kill me.' That's the kind of guy he is, just very decent and good-natured. We went and he and Janet had the two of us who cooked the meal sit at the head of the table," recalled MacMillan, who was the Gretzky family's personal chef during the Great One's days as part owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, a tenure that began in 2000.

"They're amazing people. Totally down to earth and not at all what you would expect from a celebrity like that."

The stories of Gretzky's grace and chivalry are almost as legendary as his feats on the ice. MacMillan's account that he shared with me blends in with so many other tales of No. 99′s sense of decency. The chef offered some insight into what it was like to be that close to one of Canada's icons last week when he visited Toronto to help promote Scottsdale, Arizona as a travel destination. Cooking for the Gretzkys sometimes meant cooking with Paulina and her brothers, too.

"The kids would come into the kitchen and help make ravioli and other things," said MacMillan, a superstar in his own right.

Best known in the culinary world for beating Bobby Flay on an episode of Iron Chef America, MacMillan is also the chef at elements, a restaurant in the ritzy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain resort in Scottsdale. The upscale city next door to Phoenix is filled with golf courses, a famous nightlife scene and an increasing number of fine-dining options.

Go to to read the rest of the article on Beau MacMillan's visit to Canada.

Report by Adrian Brijbassi Managing Editor

Paulina Gretzky Pictures