The 25th annual Real Men Cook event is celebrating 25 years as the annual Father’s Day event has new leadership this year and plans to expand into other areas.
The event will be held at the Legacy, 119th and Loomis St. from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and hosted by Drew Sidora. As always, there will be plenty of food from lasagnas to jerk chicken to hamburgers and hotdogs, all prepared by men volunteers. Tickets are $25 for adults, $10 for children (5-12) and seniors,which patrons with sample size portions and free non-alcoholic beverages. For the first time this year, Blue Moon is sponsoring a beer garden that will go from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The beer garden gives the older professional crowd a time to really mingle said Rael Jackson, the new president of the 25th annual event.
Jackson said Father’s Day is special and Real Men Cook gives the city an opportunity to see Black men doing something positive.
“Every Father’s Day, Real Men Cook shows something different, shows that our men aren’t all killing each other, that that’s just a small minority of our population,” he said.
Men are planning to come together earlier that day in another part of town to also do something positive. There is also a Million Man Prayer initiative planned for that day. The organizers are encouraging men from everywhere to meet at Washington Park, June 15, from noon to 4 p.m.
When it comes to Real Men Cook, last year’s event has encouraged some men to volunteer again this year.
Chuck True is a father of a 10-year-old son and last year was his first time participating as a chef. He said he had such a great time, he decided to come and volunteer for a second time.
“It was a mind blowing experience to be out there among all those positive Black men, there was just love, no hating, everybody was friendly and willing to help,” True said.
True works in corporate finance for Apartments.com and has his own business, The Chuck Wagon Grill. As someone who grew up in Englewood, he said he knows first hand how important it is for young Black men to have positive role models and that this event needs more national attention. True will be serving jerk rib tips and jerk chicken, all salt-free.
Thomas Revish is another father chef. He is an agent with State Farm, which is one of the sponsors. Real Men Cook is more than just a fun time for families, he said, but it does something on a broader scale for the Black father image.
“It brings awareness to the community in a time where there are a lot of challenges and scrutiny,” said the father of a 13-year-old son. “It’s a time for us to celebrate as a people and a community and do it in a positive way.”
Jackson took over Real Men Cook for his mother, Yvette Jackson Moyo, who was the co-founder. He said he still wants the legacy to continue–Black men giving back to their community. But he has some new ideas that will take Real Men Cook to the next level nationally.
“We were already national, we’ve been in as many as 13 cities all on Father’s Day, but the goal is to grow back to even more cities, right now we’re only in Chicago and Atlanta,” Jackson said.
He said he would like to see partnerships with all of the national sport leagues and eventually, even some products like skillets and refrigerators.
Jackson said his 16-year-old son will be grilling hamburgers with his grandfather who is a pediatrician. There are always professional men taking the serving role at the event, which Jackson calls a “good thing.”
“That’s real great about Real Men Cook, it crosses all of the career boundaries, all the professions coming together,” he said. “Pretty much in [the Black] community we don’t see these professionals like doctors interact with regular people so our kids need to know that these regular people are people they can become and aspire to be.”
There will be entertainment, a health and wellness zone, a gospel stage, a fraternity row and even a kid zone. Tickets can be purchased in advance by visiting the website Realmencook.com.