Michael Jackson’s former chef recently “dished” out on the King of Pop’s former eating habits, and it seems as if his taste for certain foods was just as quirky as his lovable personality.
People reports that Mani Niall, owner of the Sweet Bar Bakery in Oakland, California, traveled with Jackson during his Victory tour, working as his personal chef. However, he met Jackson in early 1982, and got to know the singer prior to his explosive success with his November 1982 album, Thriller.
“I got to know him before Thriller was released, and watched the fame grow around him — it was pretty remarkable.”
Niall recalls that not only was Jackson a picky eater sometimes, but it was difficult getting him to slow down enough to enjoy a meal.
“He was the type of person who could just go, go, go for hours without eating, and then be famished.”
When Jackson finally settled down enough to eat, he had a list of things he wouldn’t touch, remembers Niall. As a vegetarian at the time, Jackson didn’t like vegetables, which proved tricky to Niall when making his meals. Jackson also wasn’t a fan of pasta, and although he had a major sweet tooth, he disliked chocolate.
“He liked pizza, but he didn’t like pasta.”
Niall finally had luck finding Jackson food that he enjoyed, which is now on a commemorative menu at his bakery, but only for a limited time, throughout the week of Jackson’s August 29 birthday. As a Jehovah’s Witness, Jackson didn’t celebrate his birthday, but his assistant made sure that he had all of his favorite foods during the week of his birthday, recalls Niall, which gave him the idea for a special menu.
“Every year, his assistant would remind everybody: ‘Okay, Michael’s birthday’s coming up, but he doesn’t celebrate it. So this is also a really nice way, in retrospect, to celebrate his birthday since I couldn’t do it at the time.”
Some of Jackson’s favorite dishes included grilled tofu shish kebabs with couscous and smoked red chile enchiladas. However, throughout the years, the “Thriller” singer dismissed his vegetarian diet, which may have been in part due to his love of Kentucky Fried Chicken, which he ate at least once a month, according to his former nutritionist. During an emotional speech at Jackson’s funeral, former NBA basketball player Magic Johnson shared a funny story about Jackson and his love of fried chicken.
“So I went over to his house to have dinner. The chef came out and said, ‘What would you like?’ I said, ‘Some grilled chicken.’ So as we begin to talk about the video (“Remember the Time”) and what he wanted me to do, the chef brought me out the grilled chicken, but he brought Michael out a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. And I went crazy, like, ‘Wait a minute, Michael, you eat Kentucky Fried Chicken?'”
Michael Jackson passed away on June 25, 2009. The superstar singer would have turned 57 this year, on August 29.
[Photos Courtesy of Phil Walter/Getty Images & VInce Bucci/Getty Images]