When Dak Prescott suits up every Sunday for the Cowboys, there is an offensive line protecting him, receivers doing their best to get open and coaches trying to make him look as good as possible.
But away from the action, there is an unofficial member of the Cowboys playing his part in Prescott’s success as well.
‘It feels like I’m on the field,’ says Chef Hoppie, who cooks for the Dallas quarterback.
Once a football player himself in his younger days, Hoppie – real name Manwell McLean – has carved out an important niche fueling the passer of America’s team.
And his meals have become part of the routine for Prescott, who is looking to bring the Cowboys to the playoffs for a third straight year. While Hoppie is not in the business of counting the quarterback’s calories, there is certainly a science to keeping him properly nourished.
Chef Hoppie cooks for Dak Prescott (right), and previously cooked for Ezekiel Elliot as well
Prescott is fueled by Hoppie’s recipes throughout the week as he leads the Cowboys
Chef Hoppie cooks nutritious meals for his clients to keep them well-nourished for gameday
Earlier in the week, as the Cowboys recover from their previous game, Hoppie says the quarterback will eat lighter, with a typical meal consisting of cabbage, salmon and a sweet potato or some rice.
But as practice ramps up closer to game day – Hoppie says Thursday is Prescott’s most intensive – the chef’s recipes change too.
With Prescott needing more calories on that day, Hoppie will prepare him more carbohydrate-heavy foods, and may cook with more butter as well.
While the quarterback does not count his calories, Hoppie estimates that most football players need 5,000-6,000 calories to merely maintain their weight.
He works closely with Cowboys director of sports performance Scott Sehnert, who he says he has a ‘great relationship’ with.
In fact, it’s relationships that have gotten Hoppie to this point of cooking for Prescott, as well as rookie Luke Schoonmaker (he also used to cook for CeeDee Lamb and Ezekiel Elliot).
Back when he was a kid, Hoppie played for Deion Sanders’ youth football team – a connection that he parlayed into baking him desserts as a 12-year-old.
He later became ‘Coach Prime”s full-time personal chef at the age of 19, and used that co-sign to work his way into NFL circles.
Hoppie used to be the personal chef of Deion Sanders, and calls the coach a ‘father figure’
DAK PRESCOTT’S MIDWEEK MEAL
-Sweet Potato or rice
When receiver Allen Hurns signed with Dallas in free agency in 2018 and tweeted that he needed a chef, Hoppie was able to use the Hall of Famer’s name to score another client, and soon he was cooking for Elliot as well.
He is now solely focusing on cooking for Prescott and Schoonmaker, but the joy of watching one of his clients thrive with his food in their belly hasn’t dissipated.
‘It always feels good [watching Prescott succeed], but it’s also a product of how he worked throughout the week, in his rehab, in his training and everything like that,’ he said.
‘I try to take the smallest piece of credit and give him all the rest.’
Beyond the tasty recipes, though, Hoppie knows his job goes past what he’s putting on a plate.
‘I know what goes into it more than just the food aspect, kind of knowing what these guys want and need before they know they want and need it as well.
‘Sometimes I’m a personal assistant, sometimes I’m a bodyguard… whatever is needed at the time… It’s not anything that spoken. But for me, it’s just something that’s understood.’
For Hoppie, food has been the common denominator in some of his closest bonds.
He calls Prescott a ‘big brother’ and Sanders – now the coach at Colorado – a ‘mentor’ and ‘father figure.’
Salmon, vegetables, and rice is a staple of Hoppie’s rotation as a chef for athletes
Chef Hoppie participated in the Dos Equis College Football Tailgate Throwdown
‘Everything’s going crazy in Colorado right now,’ Hoppie said of the hype surrounding the Buffaloes after the coach’s arrival. ‘So I try not to add any extra stress or pressure on in that aspect. But I did go out there and visit [Sanders] before the season started.’
You won’t see the chef running out of the tunnel or wearing pads on gameday, but with an arsenal of pots and pans, he’s found a loophole into making his childhood ambition a reality.
‘It was always my dream to play in the NFL,’ he said.
‘But you know, I still somehow ended up in the NFL in some sort of capacity, which is what I’m doing right now. So it feels like I’m living the dream that I never dreamt.
Chef Hoppie was part of the Dos Equis College Football Tailgate Throwdown