Feed’em Soup Community Project has a new chef in the kitchen. Chef Charles “Moose” Brooks brings a rare blend of flavors to the organization whose mission is to feed those struggling with food insecurity.
Brooks was born and raised in Chicago and learned to cook at an early age. His parents hail from Jamaica and Louisiana respectively giving Chef Moose an early education in Jamaican and Cajun cuisine. While growing up in Chicago, Brooks added Chicago-style barbecue and the art of smoking meat to his repertoire.
Professionally, Chef Moose has worked in a variety of kitchens over the past 25 years further expanding his culinary abilities. This includes Northern Illinois University’s Convocation Center where he has had the opportunity to cook for a variety of celebrities such as Bob Dylan, B.B. King, Jay-Z and many others.
Both Chef Moose’s experience and diverse flavors are a welcome addition at DeKalb’s Feed’em Soup Community Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to provide a restaurant-quality meal to anyone regardless of ability to pay, and especially those in the community who struggle with food insecurity.
“We are kind of a hybrid these days” Executive Director Derek Gibbs said in a news release. “Three days a week we provide a 'donate-what-you-can' meal service for both those who need it and those who are able to donate, and a couple of other days a week we have a food event or restaurant-style fundraiser where 100 percent of the proceeds helps pay the rent, utilities, insurance, and other operating expenses.”
Chef Moose has been vital to the fundraising efforts and has helped the organization pull itself closer to being out of a $10,000 deficit in the budget created this past winter when harsh temperatures hindered fundraising efforts and drove utilities sky high. Having a professional chef has allowed the organization to separate itself from the image of a soup kitchen. The group prides itself on not only providing meals, but giving those down on their luck the feeling of a night out.
“It boosts moral. People aren’t ashamed to come in for lunch or dinner. They look forward to it. It not only feeds their bodies but it uplifts their spirit,“ Gibbs said in the release.
This summer, Chef Moose will serve four drive-thru dinners featuring some of his signature dishes such as Jamaican jerk chicken and barbecue pulled pork smoked on site for eight hours or more. Tickets to each dinner cost $8, or get a season pass for all four for $30. All of the proceeds raised will be used to keep the lights on, food hot and doors open for those that need a good meal.
The schedule follows:
• June 3 – Jerk chicken dinner, red beans and rice, fresh greens salad
• June 24 – Italian beef, pasta aalad, fresh greens salad
• July 15 – Barbecue pulled cork, Cajun potato salad, fresh greens salad
• Aug. 5 – Sausage and chicken jambalaya, bread, fresh greens salad
Pick-up is from 4 to 7 p.m. at 122 S. First St. in downtown DeKalb. Tickets must be paid for in advance and can be ordered now at www.FeedEmSoup.org.