By Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com– Usually, it’s friendly competitions on the basketball court and in the weight room after practices that infuse bragging rights amongst Magic players.
Well, a few of today’s players are now also competing in the kitchen for some added pride and entitlement. And they even got their mothers involved.
In the first event of its kind in franchise history, four Magic players, including Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Elfrid Payton and C.J. Watson, and their moms competed in a cook-off at Aggressive Appliances in Orlando on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
The Magic FIT Kid Celebrity Chef Showdown not only decided which family has the most skills in the kitchen but it also helped promote healthy eating habits and encouraged children to stay fit.
Of course, there had to be a winner and while it was admittedly a tough decision for the judges, Harris, his mother Lisa and their teammates from the Second Harvest Food Bank were named the 2015 champions.
“I was happy that we won but everyone did a great job,” Harris said. “It was awesome. Nutrition is super important. For them to see the healthy meals we made today, it’s important for kids to get that habit of knowing what foods they should eat.”
“Diet and nutrition are right up there with training,” he added. “They go hand-in-hand. Eating healthy allows me to play at top speed.”
The winning team was chosen based on who prepared the healthiest and tastiest meal. Team Harris arranged a meal that consisted of grilled chicken, shrimp, wheat pasta, vegetables and a spinach-based smoothie.
The judges included Magic CEO Alex Martins, Lucille O’Neal (president of NBA Mom’s Association and Shaquille O’Neal’s mother), Emily Elynn (featured on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars), Chef Charles “Bubba” Dodson (Walt Disney World executive chef) and Kristin LaRue (Magic team nutritionist).
“We try to reach our youth throughout Central Florida and talk to them about healthy lifestyles and we help them get into fitness programs,” Martins said. “Eating the rights foods is a big part of that. We are trying to send the message that you can eat well, you can eat things that are incredibly tasty and satisfying and it be healthy for you.”
Even though he and his team didn’t win, Oladipo was thrilled to be part of this event. He feels strongly that if not for healthy cooking from his mother growing up, he wouldn’t have been in a position to become a professional athlete.
“Showing kids how to eat healthy is really great,” Oladipo said. “I’m really excited to be here. It’s also great spending time with my mom.”
The family that joined Harris and his mother received courtside seats to a future Magic game, brand new cooking utensils and equipment, a cookbook with nutritious recipes, $2,000 grocery store shopping spree at Whole Foods, a “behind the seeds” tour at Epcot with former Magic players, an exclusive culinary demonstration and Chef table experience with Disney Executive Chef Charles “Bubba” Dodson at a Disney Resort dining location and a surprise visit with Chef Mickey.
In its second season, Magic FIT is the team’s first-ever fitness and nutrition education program for youth and adults. Following the NBA FIT guidelines, the program’s goal is to improve the knowledge of healthy food choices and fitness exercises among at-risk families within Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties. NBA FIT is a comprehensive health and wellness platform promoting healthy, active lifestyles for children and adults. Health and wellness is one of the Magic’s community focus areas (the other include hunger, homelessness, literacy/education, and inclusion).
The Magic FIT program also includes an eight-week health challenge, launching last year, that works closely with physical education teachers in local schools and challenges students to engage in physical activity throughout the school year. Last year, the winning school received bragging rights and a Magic FIT Rally which included a visit from Magic players.