Changing the Narrative: Black Bloggers Chicago speaks with Real Men Cook Co-Founder, Yvette Moyo
Real Men Charities, Inc. presents Real Men Cook - Chicago’s premiere urban Father’s Day charity event. Celebrating its 30-year milestone this year, the food-tasting event’s purpose is to uplift families, promote wellness and highlight positive black male engagement. This year’s celebration is being held on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 16 from 3PM to 6PM at Hales Franciscan, an all-male high school located at 4930 S. Cottage Grove in Chicago’s Bronzeville community. Real Men Cook is the largest, longest-running and most-anticipated Father’s Day celebration of its kind. It provides a platform where “real men” from all walks of life give up Father’s Day pampering to work and be celebrated for demonstrating extraordinary commitment to their families and to their communities. I had a chance to speak with Yvette Moyo, Co-Founder of Real Men Cook about the history of this event, the impact it has on our community and why changing the narrative of Black Fatherhood and Mentorship is so important.
Black Bloggers Chicago: How did the idea for Real Men Cook formulate and become a reality?
Yvette Moyo: In 1988, Kofi and I were married and he is a man who loves to cook for his children. He had small children at the time and I had a son and we had a huge blended family. One of the challenges for us what figuring out how to make Father’s Day special, especially because he wasn’t in the home and his kids were in a different city. The reality is that there are so many blended families and if we created an event where fathers could be the stars of the show and be the honorees that would be great. We talked to Michael Scott who was a former event manager for the City of Chicago. He told us about an event in New York called Men who Cook. We contacted those organizers and asked her permission to use the model she created. We were going to change it a bit but she initially had the concept. The first year we called it, Men who Cook, then our goals changed and we renamed it, Real Men Cook. 30 years ago, it wasn’t the art of cooking that men claimed. We wanted to change the narrative of Black Fatherhood. Black men, black fathers love their kids as much as others. Our first slogan was Real Men Cook, Real Men Love, Real Men Build, Real Men Care, Real Men Work, Real Men Love and Real Men Provide. Those principles have remained through this day. Barack Obama wrote in the foreword for our Real men Cook Cookbook, he spoke about Real Men Cook being more than an event but a demonstration of black men and the generosity of black men. This was before he was a presidential candidate. We wanted to make a celebration of men an annual tradition.
Black Bloggers Chicago: Historically the stereotypes of Black men as deadbeat fathers, absentee fathers, emotionally unavailable fathers, etc., have been prevalent for as long as I can remember. Creating this event focuses on the positive. Did you face any pushback or opposition as you tried to change the narrative?
Yvette Moyo: We really didn’t get pushback. We received applause from our community. Our families can be structured different. It’s not unusual to see a black man raising another man’s children. Our community welcomes our men with open arms, even when they have strayed away. We had so many stories about blended families told to us. The community has been behind us from the very beginning.
Black Bloggers Chicago: Why is it important to change the narrative of what Black Fatherhood and Mentorship look like?
This entire event is to change the paradigm. However you see family…works. It’s not “Fathers Who Cook”, its Real men who cook, meaning on Father’s day you get to honor the man who has made a difference in your life. It’s the mentor, the dad, the uncles, the coaches, whoever the brother is who made an impact in your life…that’s the Real Man in your life to celebrate. Real men step up and they are just there. They may not say much but their presence, a gesture and their consistency impacts our lives. I’ll tell you another thing too; Women love to see the brothers stepping up. We love that more than anything.
Black Bloggers Chicago: What is the importance of this event to our community?
Yvette Moyo: It’s about our culture and the heart of our black men. To have this event every year for the past 30 years proves that the media is painting an incorrect picture of our families and killing off some of our possibilities. With the negative stereotypes spoken about Chicago, people are afraid to come out and see the good things that are happening in our communities. I think this event reinforces my belief that in spite of the economic barriers, socio-economic barriers, etc., we are ok and we are going to be Ok. We are fighters and survivors, it’s in our DNA. In spite of it all, we are still here. We aren’t going to look like other families. When you can’t get good housing, education, jobs, etc., our families will look different and we still have love. Love exists; the generosity of black men exists in our communities, despite what the media would say.
Black Bloggers Chicago: What can people expect from this year’s Real Men Cook event?
Yvette Moyo: It’s a milestone event. We have a lot of our cooks are returning this year! We have a few cooks returning to do a tribute to Leah Chase (known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine, who passed away earlier this month). We will have a pavilion with New Orleans cuisine in her honor. Chef Cliff Rome will have all of his entities (Peaches, a Slice of Bronzeville and more) with him. We will have the 12 doctors from University of Chicago who will be in a pavilion with a healthier food offering that’s called Real Docs Cook. They will be the hub of our health and wellness pavilion. The attention to our health is important to us. Our Nonprofit, Real Men Charities focuses on family health, social, physical, mental health. We are inviting people to find out more about our Real Men’s Charities organization at the event as well.
Black Bloggers Chicago: I’m looking forward to attending and cannot wait to sample the food and enjoy the day with my family!
Yvette Moyo: We look forward to seeing you this Sunday.
Real Men Cook happens this Father’s Day, June 16th at Hales Franciscan High School. Tickets are available now or at the door! Black Bloggers Chicago is thrilled to partner with Real Men Cook and Real Men Charities as a media sponsor for this event!
Check out www.realmencook.com and www.realmencharitiesInc.org for more information.
Danielle “Danie” Sanders, Founder & President
Black Bloggers Chicago