“Real Men” Still Cooking for a Cause

By Kalin Thomas Staff Writer | 6/14/2013, 6 a.m.
“Real Men Cook has been going on for 24 years nationally and 15 years in Atlanta,” said  Diane Larche, the Real Men Cook-Atlanta manager.

Black fathers, sons, families and friends are participating in the annual “Real Mean Cook” culinary event in cities across the country on Sunday, June 16: Father’s Day.

Here in Atlanta, the highly anticipated event, which highlights black men’s culinary skills, will run from 3 - 6 p.m. at the Georgia World Congress Center’s Georgia Ballroom, Building C.

“Real Men Cook has been going on for 24 years nationally and 15 years in Atlanta,” said  Diane Larche, the Real Men Cook-Atlanta manager.

“Our mission is to celebrate African American men,” she added. “Black men are always seen in a negative way in the news and we want people to see there are many men out there doing wonderful things in their communities and churches, and who love their families. So we want to celebrate them on Father’s Day.”

Celebrity chefs who will be making everything from appetizers to desserts include:  Chef Ed Harris, winner of the fourth season of the Food Network show “Chopped”; and Chef Jason Ellis from the Fox series “Hell’s Kitchen.”


“Real Mean Cook” culinary event in cities takes place across the country on Sunday, June 16: Father’s Day.

“Chef Harris is making an Asian Chicken Won Ton, which is delicious,” said Larche, “and Chef Ellis is doing a twist on waffles with a sweet potato-candied yam and an apple pie waffle.”

This year’s event – which will benefit programs to honor and support black father figures and their families – will include a health pavilion and a Kids Zone.

Two of the local cooks who will be marching in to the booming accompaniment of the Atlanta Ol’ Skool Drummers, are Chef Mark Zeigler and Chef Raul Thomas.

“This is my third year participating and I like doing it because it’s a great group of people and a great way to get recognition while doing a good deed for the community,” said Zeigler, who first learned to love cooking in his high school home economics class.

“I’ve been participating since 2008,” Thomas said. “I love to give back to the community – even as we (fathers) give up our most important day.”

Thomas, a Puerto Rican father and grandfather, said he’ll bring the Latin flavors he learned to cook from his mother to Real Men Cook.

“We were going to go with my old authentic Puerto Rican dishes, but I’ve lost 105 pounds in the last year and so I’m bringing my healthy cooking to the table with a live demo at  4 p.m. of my Stuffed Avocado recipe,” said Thomas.

Zeigler says he’s not to be outdone and will make his signature appetizer, Shrimp Cocktail Fusion. 

“It’s an idea I came up with for a new way to express nacho chips,” said Zeigler.

But the competition is all in fun, because the chefs and officials say it’s all about brotherhood and bringing families together.

Thomas concluded: “This is a time for the men to give back through food, instead of always having the women do it.  And it’s also important that we teach our younger men that it’s okay to be a cook, because it helps you to be a better husband and a better dad.”

For more information and tickets, call 404-344-6594 or visit www.RealMenCook.com/Atlanta.html or www.TicketAnnex.com.


Shrimp Cocktail Fusion by Chef  Mark “Zig” Zeigler,



½ tbsp. cilantro

½ cup sour cream

½ lb 31-40 ct Shrimp

5 to 6  6-inch flour tortillas

Mango Salsa (see recipe)

1 mango fine dice

¼ cup red pepper fine dice

¼ cup green pepper fine dice

1/8 red onion fine dice

1 tbsp cilantro roughly chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Salt and pepper as needed


Prepare mango salsa by combining all ingredients set aside

Peel shrimp and place in your favorite seafood boil mixture for 5 mins

Finely chop cilantro then mix with sour cream

Cut tortillas in to quarters then fry quickly until crispy and golden


Tortilla chip topped with mango salsa, shrimp and a dollop of cilantro sour cream