Real Men Cook: 30 Years Strong (And Counting) By Lee Edwards

For many in Chicago’s Black community, Father’s Day has become synonymous with Real Men Cook’s annual celebration of fathers — men who take on the unique responsibilities of being more than just the father of a child. These men are also parents who offer and represent love, affection, guidance, understanding, patience and leadership, among several other worthy adjectives, both in and outside of the household as well as within their communities at-large.

Since its launch in 1990, Real Men Cook Father’s Day celebrations have been held in Chicago, Atlanta, the Bahamas, within the continent of Africa and several other locations.

In recent years, the Real Men Cook Father’s Day celebration has been an afternoon of men (some of whom are fathers) volunteering to cook free food samples for one-and-all for a family friendly day of fun, community and reverence for dads everywhere.

This year’s Real Men Cook Father’s Day celebration in Chicago will be held from 3 – 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 16 at Hales Franciscan High School, 4930 S. Cottage Grove Ave. Tickets are $15 in advance for adults and $10 for children. Admission is $30 on the day of the event. Local musicians are scheduled to perform.

To purchase tickets, visit

In the event of inclement weather, the event will move indoors for participants.

Real Men Charities, Inc. is the nonprofit arm of Real Men Cook, which prioritizes men’s wellness. Ayinde Cartman, executive director of Real Men Charities, Inc., said the nonprofit hosts a free intergenerational healing circle for men only on Sunday afternoons from 1 – 3 p.m. at the Quarry Event Center located at 2423 E. 75th St. The healing circle events first began in March 2018.

“This [celebration] has consistently provided a space for men to be celebrated — particularly fathers on Father’s Day. It’s a pleasure to keep this event alive,” Cartman said. “Father’s Day is the real celebration of manhood. And everybody loves food so it’s the ability to combine the two in a way that has a larger impact than your standard family barbecue that may be smaller and for a particular crowd. Real Men Cook is open to everyone; it’s for the community.”

The food choices this year will feature traditional barbecue, vegan and vegetarian options. One of the event’s sponsors — University of Chicago Medicine — will provide vegetable, pineapple and chicken kabobs, Cartman explained.

In preparation for the outdoor cooking aspect of Real Men Cook, all male volunteers must complete an outside festival sanitation certification administered by Faith Dining Chicago, according to Cartman. He said 30 volunteers in total have completed three classes thus far. The volunteers hail from Chicago’s Westside, Southside and south suburbs.

A portion of the revenue raised from the upcoming Real Men Cook Father’s Day celebration will benefit Hales Franciscan High School and support programs for Real Men Charities, Inc., such as the men’s healing circle and a mentorship program called “Real Mentors.” MANifest is another program that will receive a portion of the revenue. MANifest, which intends to use hip-hop as an opportunity to encourage literacy, was created by Real Men Charities, Inc. under program director Dr. Obari Cartman.

For more information about Real Men Cook, visit

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