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Cooking for a Cause

Real men in the kitchen for a Milwaukee competition

Aug. 4, 2010
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In the 2005 book Real Men Cook: Rites, Rituals, and Recipes for Living, author Karega Kofi Moyo writes, "Increasingly, African-American men in particular are often portrayed as criminals, drug addicts, absentee fathers and jailbirds. Seldom are they depicted as defenders, providers, helpmates and companions. This picture is flawed. It fails to recognize the millions of everyday men who strive constantly to make their world, and the world at large, a better place.”

To celebrate the men who are often overlooked, Moyo and his wife, Yvette Jackson Moyo, founded Real Men Cook in 1990, an annual food-tasting event held on Father’s Day during which men volunteer to cook for and serve their communities. The Moyos’ charity has had an extraordinary influence on our country’s African-American community, including here in Milwaukee.

In the mid-’90s Ruben Hopkins was serving as vice president for the 100 Black Men of Greater Milwaukee, an organization devoted to enhancing educational and economic opportunities for African Americans.

“Promoting positive black images is a staple of that organization,” Hopkins explains. “We were looking for an event we could make our own to use every year to raise funds… We knew they had Real Men Cook down in Chicago, so we decided to do our own thing and call it Men Who Cook.”

Now in its 11th year, Men Who Cook, which two years ago merged with another event, Dads Who Cook, invites men from all backgrounds to participate in the friendly competition by cooking up the dish they love to brag about. If they wish, contestants can compete in all four categories: appetizer, main course, meat dish and dessert. For the Men Who Cook/Dads Who Cook challenge, which begins Saturday, Aug. 7, at 11 a.m. at the Parklawn YMCA, competitors bring 250 1-ounce servings of their dish for sampling. For a mere $1 per sample, anyone can be a judge. Scores are determined by taste and presentation. Contestants will go home with a signature hat and apron, and, if they win, one of three grills, among other prizes.

Running concurrently with the Men Who Cook/Dads Who Cook competition will be a basketball tournament, as well as a Double Dutch jump-rope competition.

The Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce, the organization sponsoring the event, is donating proceeds from the competition to the Milwaukee Fatherhood Collaborative, a network of community organizations working collectively to help males become better fathers, and the Parklawn YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, an effort to make the Y’s programs and services available to everyone in the community, regardless of age, economic circumstance or ability.

For more information, visit www.menwhocookwi.com.


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