BLACK CHEFS IN HISTORY: JOSH MARKS
Real Men Cook, a pillar of the Black community in Chicago and beyond for 25 years, has been one of my favorite charities for quite some time now. RMC’s mission is to positively improve the way the world celebrates family and community by increasing the opportunities for men to become involved, responsible and committed fathers for the good of all communities, families and youth. Every Father’s Day, men in the community get together and prepare foods for the public, celebrating unity of African American men.
A few years ago, a remarkable Chicago chef named Josh Marks, a then recent runner-up on FOX’s cooking show MasterChef, became the spokesperson for the organization. On the TV show, he dazzled judges with his craft, and it catapulted him to national fanfare. His mother describes him as “kind, so gentle….. He loved life. He loved people. He would never hurt anyone, never.” His friends describe him the same, affectionately calling him a “Gentle Giant.”
As a self-taught chef, he was a fan of food shows and intensely honed his craft. He was deeply rooted in the community, working with a non-profit group that seeks to use music to raise awareness of issues related to suicide,Real Men Cook, and a few other groups.
At 7’2”, he hovered above most people and was well on his way to becoming a superstar in the culinary industry. He looked like a lanky basketball player, but his plates resembled beautiful works of art, full with an array of colors, exotic ingredients and intense flavor. According to CNN.com, his family says “…behind that huge smile, Josh was in the battle of his life fighting mental illness,” a family statement said. “It was extremely tough, but Josh was always positive, focused on his faith in God and determined to win; pushing forward through his illness to follow his passion for cooking and dream of being a renowned chef.”
Unfortunately, his battle with bipolar disorder caused him to commit suicide in 2013 at the age of 26.
Whereas I didn’t know him personally, everyone whom I’ve talked to him that did say he was a remarkable man, chef, and community activist. Brother Josh, the “7-foot Chef,” you will be missed.
Below is a video of one of his recipes:
About Chef Cordell
Chef Cordell passionately pursues educating others how to build healthy cooking and eating habits for life via cooking classes, grocery store tours, kitchen makeovers, public speaking, corporate wellness training, restaurant consulting, etc. Through his nonprofit work, he looks to offer community based solutions for education of, and access to, healthier food solutions.