Travis Kelce’s childhood friend is now his personal chef.

Photography by Laura Morsman.

It may seem stressful to be responsible for the diet of a professional athlete, especially one that’s recently skyrocketed to celebrity status, but Kumar Ferguson doesn’t sweat it. He may be Travis Kelce’s personal chef, but the two go way back. The Cleveland, Ohio, natives have been friends since childhood. 

“Growing up, I would cook for all the bros after we’d be hanging out all day,” Ferguson says. “That kitchen table hangout has always been a center for all of us. We have definitely carried that tradition with us.”

Ferguson got a call from Kelce in 2016 asking for his help. The tight end wanted to step up his diet. At the time, Ferguson, who was driving a truck and had been for six years, had never worked in a professional kitchen.

“I flew out four days later and we haven’t looked back since,” Ferguson says.

Two Super Bowls later, it’s clear that Kelce’s dietary regimen is working. During the football season, Ferguson cooks three meals a day for the athlete, shopping for groceries between each one. Kelce handles the tunes while Ferguson whips up oatmeal with fresh fruit for breakfast and a seafood alfredo for dinner. But it’s not all counting calories (the tight end consumes over 4,000 calories on practice and game days). 

Ferguson keeps Kelce’s diet fresh by regularly studying and consuming food news, always looking for new meal inspiration. Luckily, one of the perks that came from Ferguson’s truck-driving days was being exposed to various regional cuisines. Ferguson says his on-the-road culinary adventures and growing up with an African-American father and Indian mother influenced his cooking style. Soul food and Indian spices made regular appearances on his family’s table.

Kelce, however, grew up on steaks.

“His dad is actually a grill master, so that’s where I got filets in our diet,” Ferguson says. The chef jazzes up the usual meaty proteins with a little soul food flare or an unexpected seasoning. Deep-fried Australian lobster tails paired with a yum yum sauce and tangy Hawaiian heat wings keep Kelce lean and satisfied. 

When asked if Travis ever critiques his food, Ferguson responds yes, but that just comes with the territory.

“Being brothers is funny because we can throw shots at each other all day, but Travis is incredible when it comes to professionalism and just being on top of taking whatever he’s investing into,” says Ferguson. “The communication has been open from the jump.”

Between his friendship with Kelce and being a creative at heart (the chef is also passionate about fashion, whether it be collecting vintage or spray painting clothing), Ferguson doesn’t let the pressure get to him. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. He’s thriving under it. Although he isn’t quite ready to go public with his latest business venture, he says he’s created a platform that connects and contracts personal chefs with athletes. “We actually just broke into the NBA this summer with full-time clients and year-round chefs,” he says. 

It seems the sky’s the limit not just for Kelce but for Ferguson, too.  

Perfect Day

Brunch: Recently, we’ve been going to Rye. I was so impressed by their chicken-fried steak. It’s huge, with a side of sausage gravy, two sunny-side-up eggs, mashed potatoes on the bottom. I instantly felt like it should be a sought-after Kansas City thing.

Shopping: First, I’d start in Westport at Dva Percent owned by my bro Roman Khachaturyan. They have kicks, Hypebeast, vintage tees, all kinds of cool gear. Up the street is Reset for all types of vintage. The third stop would be WyCo Vintage. They have the largest collection of vintage shirts in North America. They have heat, whatever you can think of. 

Butcher shop: The Upper Cut KC for their grass-fed bone-in filets, for sure. They bring in really fresh seafood along with their privately raised cattle, so their beef is amazing. Then Anton’s Taproom on Main. Their filets are great, but I recently got grain-fed ribeyes that were incredible. 

Soul food: I’ll be at PeachTree Cafe’Teria grabbing a Big Mama’s Plate—three meats, three sides. I try to swing through on a Friday for gumbo, but other than that, I get fried chicken, mac and cheese, collard greens, cabbage mix. Oh, and an Arnold Palmer sweet tea. 

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