MALCOLM KEGEL'S day as a personal chef starts at 7 a.m., as he picks up a latte from a coffee shop and heads to the market to buy fresh ingredients.

On the breakfast menu: a ham and cheese burrito with tomatillo sauce, seasonal fruit and a banana-peach smoothie for his employer, Adonal Foyle, who plays for the Golden State Warriors.

"Adonal loves his smoothies," Kegel says. "He especially loves mangoes because he's from the Caribbean."

At 6 feet 10 inches and 270 pounds, Foyle is an intimidating figure. But his characteristic game-day scowl belies a gentle nature off the court.

We are warned that Foyle might be a little grumpy on this particular morning because he didn't play the night before in Phoenix; plus he arrived home at 2 a.m. At about 9 a.m. Foyle comes downstairs, slumps at the table in the breakfast nook, and begins reading three national newspapers.

"So Adonal, what about those crab-stuffed salmon fillets Kegel makes for you?" we ask him.

Foyle's eyes brighten as he looks up from his newspaper and smoothie.

"Oh, I'm in heaven," Foyle, 30, says with a broad smile and strong Caribbean accent. "He just wooed me in."

In the summer of 2004, Foyle, a Warriors' starter, was "in the money" when he signed a four-year, $48 million contract. He moved from his home in the Oakland hills to his current residence in Orinda.

Foyle realized that to be the best he could be on the court, he would have to eat better, in part because he's prone to gaining weight if he doesn't watch himself.


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He decided to hire a personal chef. But how?

Fortunately, his manager, Stephen Eriksen, saw Kegel, a graduate of San Francisco's California Culinary Academy, posting a flier at a coffee shop advertising his personal-chef services. At the time, he was working at Chez Panisse.

After a quick interview, Kegel cooked a few test meals for Foyle. That was 18 months ago, and Kegel, 29, has been cooking for Foyle ever since.

Kegel enjoys the challenge of cooking for a professional athlete.

"I love it," he says, as the aroma of roasting coriander and cumin seeds fills the air. "I get to do my own thing, play with spices. I get to experiment. I'm happy for the most part. Adonal likes spicy food, so I work a lot with curries (popular in the Caribbean). I have time to be with my wife and (rock) climb on weekends."

Kegel grew up near Mexico City and learned to cook from his mother.

"I've been cooking since I was a little boy," Kegel says. "We lived on a ranch with my grandfather. I hated doing dishes, but I loved to cook. Now I do my own dishes every day. I've been cooking ever since."

As a teenager, Kegel came to the Bay Area and didn't want to leave. He went to Drake High School in San Anselmo and lived with a friend in San Rafael. Then came culinary school.

Along the way, he fell in love with rock climbing. He met his wife while working as a route setter at Touchstone Climbing in Berkeley.

"This job gives me freedom," Kegel says. "I love working with Adonal. It's awesome. It's a great situation. Adonal's in the best shape ever. I think Stephen (Foyle's manager) and I had a part in that."

Foyle takes a break from dipping his breakfast burrito into a spicy salsa that Kegel created.

"My life was crazy before I moved here," he says. "I used to love to cook growing up, but I don't have any time. I'm playing my best ball now. When I come home, the last thing I want to do is to go into the kitchen. When I was tired and I'd reach for the first thing I saw, I kept eating junk food.

"Now I wake up and reach into the fridge for something healthy that Malcolm's made for me. I'm not getting younger. I have to keep my nice figure. There are more younger people in the league. I have to compete."

Foyle has one edict for Kegel: No bland foods.

"He likes everything spicy," Kegel says. "If I make plain rice, he wants something spicy added, like a chile or garlic."

Foyle is easy to work for. He has one of the best reputations in the league for his work in the community and his easy-going spirit. 

For example, Foyle recently traveled to Albany, N.Y., to participate in the annual conference in Democracy Matters, the nonprofit he set up to help young adults understand the political process. KGO-TV in the Bay Area also featured Foyle in "Profiles in Excellence," which aired Saturday. (He was interviewed in his sweats because his luggage from the previous night's out-of-town game were late in arriving.)

Occasionally, Foyle's family members visit from the Caribbean. He grew up in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, specifically Canouan, a tiny island measuring 31/2 miles by 11/4 miles. His sister is a chef, and she and Foyle's mother tell Kegel how to spice up Adonal's meals the way he likes them.

Kegel's job is to shop for his ingredients and cook all day Monday through Friday, with weekends off. He prepares three meals a day for Foyle, whose in-season schedule revolves around morning practices at the team's headquarters in Oakland and games at night.

When the Warriors are out of town, Kegel doesn't cook. In the off-season, roughly May through early October, Foyle's schedule is more relaxed, speaking and offering basketball camps, including one on Canouan.

Kegel likes the relaxed atmosphere of his job. He wears a sweatshirt and jeans instead of the typical togs that chefs wear while at work.

"Maybe I should get my chef's coat on," Kegel jokes, Latin salsa music playing gently in the background. "I never have people in the kitchen. This is my little quiet space."

After breakfast, Kegel begins working on lunch and dinner, and Foyle heads downtown for practice, returning in the early afternoon for lunch. On the lunch menu is grilled chicken paillard with salsa asada, Mexican-style rice and chayote squash. Once lunch is over, it's on to dinner, which is usually put in the refrigerator to be eaten at Foyle's leisure. Tonight's dinner is pork roast infused with thyme in an apple cider Dijon marinade with olive oil mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus.

"He's extremely creative," Foyle says of Kegel. "I love his Spanish influence. He's willing to learn. I like to be in the kitchen snooping. He has fun with food. He mixes it up. He's keen to what I like. He puts his soul into food. No matter what, it's very much Malcolm. I like that."

Crab-Stuffed Salmon Fillets
Recipe courtesy of Malcolm Kegel.

4 salmon fillets, butterflied

1 large red pepper roasted, peeled and diced (medium)

1 cup dry, seasoned breadcrumbs

1 cup of crabmeat

1/4 cup feta cheese

1/2 teaspoon of paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse fillets, pat dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a rack in a greased baking pan. Combine breadcrumbs, peppers, cheese, crab, paprika, salt and pepper. Place stuffing loosely on fillets and roll, securing with toothpicks or butcher's twine. Brush each fillet with olive oil, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serves 4.

Per Serving: 374 Calories; 9g Fat; 47g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 127mg Cholesterol; 1160mg Sodium.

Adonal's Game Day Smoothie

2-3 fresh mangoes, peeled and cubed

2 tablespoons of peach or mango sorbet

1 cup of orange juice

1 banana

1 heaping tablespoon of high-quality protein powder

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 15-20 seconds.Serve in a "to go" cup with "Key to Victory" stat on the side. Nutrition could not be accurately calculated.

You can e-mail Doug Mead at dmead@angnewspapers.com.