DeKALB – Feed ‘Em Soup’s new chef lives by the saying that food serves as the main gateway to a person’s soul.
Charles “Chef Moose” Brooks began working for Feed ‘Em Soup, 122 S. First St., DeKalb, in late February, replacing chef Alex Smith. Brooks has experience as a chef at Northern Illinois University’s Convocation Center and University Plaza.
While the Chicago native has fed celebrities such as former vice president Dick Cheney, Jay-Z, B.B. King and Beyonce, his focus now is on feeding the disadvantaged residents of DeKalb.
He recently talked to reporter Andrea Azzo about his new job.
Azzo: Where does your nickname originate from?
Moose: Actually, my name is Moose. Upon a time when I was studying different religions, I was given that name. My name is Musa. Everybody got used to calling me Moose, so I just went with that.
Azzo: What’s your cooking background?
Moose: I started in the kitchen at Ponderosa in West Dundee as a busboy at the age of 15. I was working through a co-op class in high school. You work so many hours, and they show you how to cook. I had been cooking before then. My mother worked a second shift, and my father worked first shift. I always had to start dinner for my father. My mom’s family is from Louisiana. My father has an Ethiopian background and lived in Jamaica. Both parents taught me how to cook. My grilling experience came from my father, and cooking in the kitchen came from my mother.
Azzo: What do you cook?
Moose: I cook cajun, soul food and Jamaican food. Actually, I’m international. I can cook anything under the sun.
Azzo: What brought you to Feed ‘Em Soup?
Moose: A Red Bull distributor and friend of 15 years knew they needed a chef here. I didn’t know too much about it. I found out what it was about. It was here to help the community feed people who don’t have food. With my skills and my knowledge around the kitchen, I accepted this position because it’s for a good cause.
Azzo: How has it been since you started here?
Moose: It’s fabulous. It’s the greatest feeling in the world when you can feed the ones who don’t have it and even the ones who do have it, just to come and help the community out. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. They come and let you know, “I appreciated that meal. Thank you.”
Azzo: How is the atmosphere here different than other places you’ve worked?
Moose: We have different volunteers that come. My 6-year-old daughter volunteers here just to teach her the values in life: to come and help the needy. Her first volunteering was Thanksgiving. She came here, helped clean tables and set things up. I pick her up every day after school, so she comes and hangs out with me in the kitchen. She’s always willing to come and help the community out.
Azzo: What does the future have in store for you?
Moose: Even if things don’t work out, I’d like to still volunteer and give my time. I’m a guy with a big heart, anyway. A big teddy bear. And it’s all for a good cause.