BE Modern Man: Benny Emeri
Food artist; 31; Co-founder, EatGoodNYC
I am a food artist and the co-founder of EatGoodNYC, a speciality food art company in New York City. We are known for our unique dessert gifts and our even more unique style of incorporating pop culture, art, and fashion in the mix. In 2014, we created the selfie cookie and five years later, it’s a trend in the culinary world, including a show involving creating selfie cookies on the Food Network. Our clients not only are people looking for a unique gift or dessert, they are also looking for a unique experience and relationship through our customer service.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN LIFE?
Being a respected black entrepreneur means the world to me. Reading Black Enterprise since I was a teenager and seeing respected businessmen that looked like me inspired me to be the man I am today.
HOW HAVE YOU TURNED STRUGGLE INTO SUCCESS?
With EatGoodNYC being an online-based company, I had to find a way to attract clientele and show people my art. Aside from using social media to my advantage as a food artist, I would head to Manhattan from Queens to network and meet with people. My big break was when I took a selfie cupcake (our signature item) of [English model, actress, and singer] Cara Delevinge to an event she was part of. I couldn’t get into the event, so I waited outside with paparazzi for two hours just for the opportunity to maybe see her. When she finally came out, I pulled out my selfie cupcake and just waved at her. She looked at me and screamed, “WTF is that?!” She came over and asked to see it and if she could take a picture of it. The next day I woke up to that picture of her with the cupcake in Vogue, the Daily Mail, and other big publications.
WHO WAS YOUR GREATEST MALE ROLE MODEL AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM HIM?
Not really having a father figure around, and growing up in the era when rap moguls were a big thing in the early 2000s, I looked up to guys like Dame Dash, Jay Z, and P. Diddy. To this day, you can hear me referencing a Jay or Diddy rap line in my everyday experiences. My favorite line that I live by is from Jay Z: “All I got is dreams. Nobody else believes. Nobody else can see. Nobody else but me.” I remember telling someone I was going to start baking and they laughed. Honestly, It didn’t even affect me because I saw the vision; I always knew I was going to be here.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
A Brooklyn poet once said, “Keep low and keep firing.” In my head, that means keep focused and turn these crazy dreams into reality.
HOW ARE YOU PAYING IT FORWARD TO SUPPORT OTHER BLACK MALES?
I’m paying it forward through open communication and always lending a hand, by being always willing to help anyone no matter how big or small the task may be. I have a special place in my heart for my people, because I know firsthand how hard it is to acquire certain opportunities and experiences.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE MANHOOD?
I’m replacing the word “manhood” with “adulthood,” because I try not to hold men and women to different standards on account of their gender. Adulthood to me is about taking responsibility for your own actions and decisions and taking control of your destiny in a manner befitting you and those who have a stake in your decisions. Adulthood is knowing it’s not always about you, and you must take responsibility for making society better around you.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING A BLACK MAN?
We the sh*t!!! Pardon my French, but we are the most stereotyped and the most feared, and with the chips against us we thrive and show the world how great we are. You give us the ghettos and we create hip-hop, you give us a ball and we take over every major sport. That’s what we do!
BE Modern Man is an online and social media campaign designed to celebrate black men making valuable contributions in every profession, industry, community, and area of endeavor. Each year, we solicit nominations in order to select men of color for inclusion in the 100 Black Enterprise Modern Men of Distinction. Our goal is to recognize men who epitomize the BEMM credo “Extraordinary is our normal” in their day-to-day lives, presenting authentic examples of the typical black man rarely seen in mainstream media. The BE Modern Men of Distinction are celebrated annually at Black Men XCEL (www.blackenterprise.com/blackmenxcel/). Click this link to submit a nomination for BE Modern Man: https://www.blackenterprise.com/nominate/. Follow BE Modern Man on Twitter: @bemodernman and Instagram: @be_modernman.