In Bed Stuy, DOH workers have organized a free culinary class that teaches fledgling fathers how to cook and how to be a super dad!

The Bed-Stuy-based Brooklyn Dad Iron Chef Program, sponsored by the NYC Department of Health, not only educates fathers about healthy cooking, but also serves as a space for young dads to learn the rites of fatherhood and overall well being.

In exchange for their time, participants can expect a free gourmet meal that promises to be good and good for them, while learning valuable culinary and paternal skills

Also on the agenda of the evening’s topics: breastfeeding.

Matthew Morales, the Department of Health worker in charge of the program, explained how men can aid in the feeding process for their infant children, portrayed as an intimate moment between parent and child, sans lactating breasts.  

Morales, known best for his sense of humor, claims that “singing or murmuring to the child while breastfeeding can provide a nurturing experience all the same.” (This, he says in a baritone singing voice, impersonating Barry White)

Morales is a part of the Health Equity Department– one of the newest departments within the DOH– which is taking a more granular approach to addressing what they call “disparity health” issues within communities.

According to Morales, at the root of many persistent health issues plaguing underserved communities is a lack of infrastructure in the education and planning of programs that aim to tackle health issues. One persistent issue includes the high rates of infant mortality in poorer New York City neighborhoods, including Bed-Stuy.

Data shows that that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is less likely to happen from breastfeeding, as one benefit of breastfeeding a child.

Other benefits include:

  • Stronger dental structures in children (if pulled directly from the breast)
  • Reduces chance of allergies.
  • Lowers chance of child contracting breast cancer
  • Higher IQ

According to Morales, “to deny breastfeeding, is to deny the best nutrients to our children.”

As Morales continued his lecture and the evening progressed, the aroma of vegetarian chili filled the air compliments of chef Karen Cherfils, creator of BeautiFULLY Fed, along with a little help from the dads who prepped the food earlier that evening.

Chef Cherfil of Beautifully Fed.

All of the ingredients in her black-bean, sweet potato and pumpkin chili were sourced from from Ena McPhearson, a local Brooklyn farmer.

Cherfils is also a health and wellness advocate who champions the concept of strong people and families, physically and mentally, beginning with healthy food.

Cherfils schooled the dads of the Brooklyn Daddy Iron Chef program from taking on the arduous task of properly husking an avocado, to mastering the “rock-motion” when cutting with knives.

The chili was served with collard-green side salad, in place of arugula, dressed with coconut-lime vinaigrette.

The veggie-chili was complemented with pineapple-cornbread stuffed with succulent chunks of pineapple in each muffin. And in-lieu of a sour-cream topping for the chili, chef Cherfils whipped-up a spiced yogurt mix to dollop on top for a healthier supplemental, yet subtle sweet taste.

Chef Cherfil’s pumpkin-black bean chili with pineapple cornbread.

The Daddy Iron Chef class occurs every second Tuesday of every month, from 5:00pm – 8:00pm at the North East Brooklyn Food Pantry, located at 376 Throop Avenue, in Bed Stuy.

The event is specifically for new fathers, but is open and free to all residents of Central Brooklyn!

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