Four years after making their social media debut, the husband and wife duo behind DudeThatCookz sat down with Urbanoire to discuss their platform, journey, and the family rules behind content creation.
By Naomi Dubissette
Behind the splendid images of restaurant-worthy dishes and warm and healing cooking sessions of the DudeThatCookz page is a genuine couple who embody the symbiosis of joined forces in marriage, a straight-forward “this is us” vibe, and sheer culinary craft. In an era where social media has become a digital runway with everyone showing you how incredible they are every two seconds, connections with content creators can feel fleeting. But Eric and Shanna Jones are one of those rare standouts who immediately draw you in, because their platform rests on so much more than food—but family, faith, and a fulfilling foundation.
The DudeThatCookz’s hugely successful platform appeals to so many because it feels genuine– and that’s because it started as a genuine endeavor of Shanna Jones to spend more time with her husband Eric Jones. “I had a lifestyle blog that was pretty successful before,” Shanna says, “and once I became pregnant with our son, I wanted to do something that highlighted all the creativity that Eric was doing in the kitchen, and pair this with doing something with my husband.” Shanna’s sentiment speaks to the fulfillment of being able to build something with someone you love—and while savoring recipes, the two savor every moment.
The brand they’ve built also addresses the social issues that Shanna and Eric are dedicated to— among them being male representation in the domestic sphere, and healthier re-imaginings of Southern and Black diasporic food. Since stepping into the scene, Shanna notes that “there are a lot of prominent men in professional culinary spaces but you don’t see the male home cook often…there are a lot of women in in recipe and food blogging, and when we started, Eric was kind of out there by himself as a Black male cooking at home recipes.” By just being themselves in this space, Eric and Shanna have made room for more men and people of color to pioneer new culinary avenues and in concert, strengthen their communities. “I make gourmet manfood,” Eric calls his cuisine. “I’ve always wanted to be as inventive as possible and do the next creative thing. Everyone has a creative foundation from somewhere [or someone]…and I strive to have the ability to create that something new.”
Connected to this “something new” is the reinvention of Southern cooking and soul food in a healthier form, rooted in the couple’s holistic mantra: “eating should be for a lifestyle, not a diet.” As Eric opens up, “When we speak of culture, it’s about breaking the chains, but keeping the culture. You don’t have to lose your culture to break chains. We’re breaking the generational curses that we’ve passed down from a health perspective.” “And healthy food doesn’t have to taste bad,” Shanna chimes in.
Indeed, Eric’s dishes are influenced by the Cajun-Creole and French cooking styles of his two Louisiana grandmothers, and the ripple effect of the healthy soul food dishes reverberates across social media in presentations that tell our history while also leading a people who are still systemically denied access to the healthiest food into a better future. “People inherited high blood pressure and these different health ailments,” Eric says, “because of what we’ve been taught to put in our bodies for so long. And we have to get rid of the thought that eating healthy would be disregarding our history.”
These aspirations toward a healthier future began as family values that blossomed into the virtual brand we’ve come to love. Among these values are the family’s faith in God that influences their messaging and partnership choices. As Shanna tells us, the intention is simple— “we’re in this together to be fruitful from a spiritual perspective,” as embodied in “growing with our kids, taking a weekend off every month…and never competing. That’s why the campaigns we do are always true to what we believe in.” In terms of partnerships, Shanna continues, “we reject more than we accept. The moment we have to jeopardize [our values] for financial gain is the day that we’ve failed.” “Zero compromise when it comes to that,” adds Eric.
When asked about the unforeseeable success of their brand, Shanna tells me she knew it was coming because of the same spiritual values that the couple built the platform on. “We believe in speaking things into existence. Hard work pays off. Being fruitful. Eric was creating and pairing that with his spirituality…and I knew it was going to work. Otherwise it would’ve been a gotcha moment for me if it didn’t.” The couple’s words stand by their success. The DudeThatCookz platform continues to both uplift and appetize across the world with a fruitfulness that grows from an exceptionally strong foundation.