by Andrew Morrison | A few weeks ago I was surprised to learn that my friend Owen Lightly – best known as a chef, blogger, one of this year’s Top 40 Foodies Under 40, the founder of Butter On The Endive catering company, a long-time Scout contributor, and one of the most honest, sincere, and down-to-earth individuals that many of his peers have ever had the good fortune to come across – had been diagonsed with stage 4 colon cancer.
It was hard to believe at first. We were supposed to destroy Calabria and Sicily together this summer! He’s only 30 years old, for crissakes! I could write about how the disease had absolutely dropped the ball in this case, that Owen was totally the wrong guy, but there’s no denying that it’s the real deal. Owen is sick. He starts treatment – an aggressive course of chemotherapy – this morning.
My family paid him a visit at his home over the weekend. He was in high, determined spirits; his eyes as bright and attitude as philosophical as ever. He expressed amazement at the overwhelming outpouring of support that had come his way in recent days, and was glad to have so many well wishers paying him visits. “I’m valuing relationships a lot more that I think I used to,” he told us. “They’re what’s most important to me now.”
Save for the amplified love of friends and family, there are no guarantees with cancer. Those who choose to fight it can beat it, and Owen is a fighter. His outlook is very positive, but to face cancer is to turn away from everything else. The truth of it is that he and his partner Naomi could use a lot of help during this battle. Though Butter On The Endive is still going strong, it will need to slow down as Owen gets the best of this thing, and financial assistance is a must. And so, on Owen and Naomi’s behalf, the local food and beverage industry has come together to throw a big benefit party at Vancouver Urban Winery on the night of May 19th.
It’s called Food Fight, and attending is what everyone can do to show Owen their love and best wishes as he undergoes treatment. If you want cheer him on and have his back, purchase your tickets here before they’re all gone. A lot of great chefs and bartenders have jumped up and offered their skills for the night, as have a seriously impressive collection of suppliers and artisan producers, not to mention the one and only Rich Hope, who will be on hand with his guitar. It’s really awesome to see the industry coming together like this in support of one of their own. And believe you me, Owen is humbled by all the love.
Tickets for Food Fight are only $60. The bar is by donation, so be sure to bring cash. 100% of the ticket sales and proceeds of this fundraiser will go directly to Owen. If you can’t make it, you can donate by clicking next to the ticket sales box.
UPDATE: The BC Hospitality Foundation is generously supporting Food Fight and will match funds raised at the event up to $5000. “We know we have a tight industry and we know that they are generous in times of trouble. But we are still in awe of the way our friends and colleagues have rallied to support Owen,” says Alan Sacks, BC Hospitality Foundation Executive Director. “The Foundation is an important part of the community and is more than glad to be able to support these fundraising activities with a $5000 matching donation. The situation that Owen finds himself in is exactly why the Foundation exists. Our mantra of ‘working together to help our own’ is being lived out in front of us by all those who have stepped up to the plate on Owen’s behalf. We are proud to be part of “Food Fight” and proud of the way our community has responded.”
Friends and well-wishers are also invited to attend the special fundraising supper that award-winning chef David Hawksworth is cooking up for Owen at his eponymous restaurant in the Hotel Georgia on May 5th (Owen came up in the trade under David Hawksworth at South Granville’s storied West restaurant, and remains a key mentor to this day). There are only 50 tickets available at $200 each, with all of the proceeds going to Owen. Details and menu here.
UPDATE: FOOD FIGHT IS NOW SOLD OUT. The venue is at capacity and no additional tickets will be sold or released at the door.