Black Men Cook, Real Men Cook

Real Men Cook Celebrates 35 Years Of Changing Perceptions And Strengthening Communities

Real Men Cook began in 1990 to counteract negative depictions of Black men in the media.

Real Men Cook, a group started in 1990 by Kofi and Yvette Moyo to counteract negative depictions of Black men in the media, is celebrating its impact over the last 35 years on Father’s Day. The group’s signature event appeared on the White House lawn during the Obama administration. 

As Yvette Moyo told the Chicago Defender, the Chicago-based group aims to celebrate the contributions of Black men to their homes and communities.

“We wanted to celebrate the passion of men who, despite racism and discrimination, still get up every day and try to make a difference. When fathers with newborn babies come to us, they see Real Men Cook as a rite of passage because they want to be around other men who serve and have kept their family relationships together, no matter what the challenges.”

Real Men Cook also has a nonprofit arm, Real Men Charities, which seeks to support families year-round. According to Moyo, its building, The Quarry, is a popular spot for men in the community. “Men know that when they come to our facility, which we own, called The Quarry in South Shore, they know that we will have a special ear for them because we are a hub for their healing.”

Moyo noted, “Real Men Charities is a movement to change the way people view Black men, but also how Black men view themselves. We’re also attempting to communicate to them that their presence is more important than their money, that we don’t have to buy into capitalism that way.”

The group also has a very special alum, former President Barack Obama. Obama, who is from Chicago, attended Real Men Cook events when he lived in Chicago. According to Rael Jackson, son of Yvette Moyo and the current president of Real Men Cook, Obama carried the tradition to the White House. “I love the fact that we have pictures of Barack Obama in a bandana,” Jackson said. “We have pictures of him holding Sasha and Malia at Real Men Cook, and he actually wrote the foreword for our cookbook. And this is all before he became a national phenom.”

Jackson continued, “We know that that’s where he gets that understanding from because there were no other food events on Father’s Day before Real Men Cook.”

Jackson also echoed the comments of his mother about the impetus for the group’s creation, telling Block Club Chicago, “Thirty-five years ago, we were having conversations about the extinction of the Black male — basically a narrative about [how we were] going to jail, the War on Drugs was at its height, there were a lot of gang activities in Chicago and [murders] were higher than now. But we knew that men really wanted to take care of their kids, that men were really trying to work jobs and were regular people out there.”

Jackson added, “We wanted to balance the narrative out there in the media with the reality that we saw every day in our communities.”

Jackson would like to see the group transition into licensing eventually. “My real vision is licensing. I would love to see a Real Men Cook refrigerator in homes. I would love to see Real Men Cook become like the Brand Jordan of the kitchen. So, Real Men Cook knives, Real Men Cook cast iron skillets. It can become a symbol of quality in the kitchen,” he told the Defender.

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