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Industry unites to raise money to support hospitalised chef

28 July 2016 by
Industry unites to raise money to support hospitalised chef

A crowdfunding page has been set up to help a chef who runs and operates his restaurant single-handedly while he is in hospital.

Toft runs the kitchen at the 24-seat Dining Room alone. He told The Caterer that his admission to hospital had been brought about by the "acute stress" of operating as a one-man band.

Fellow restaurateur and crowdfunding advocate Gary Usher of Sticky Walnut in Chester, who also owns Burnt Truffle and soon-to-open Hispi Bistro, was instrumental in setting up the JustGiving page, took to Twitter to rally supporters to raise money for the chef.

Usher said: "Si is a one-man band, he does all the cooking himself in a tiny little restaurant. He's constantly fighting. It's hard work! He deals with the same s**t we all deal with but he does it alone.

"When he got ill last week he had to close. I sent him a direct message on Twitter asking what was wrong and he told me he had to close the restaurant. I saw he was in hospital again last night. He said he had to close again and wasn't sure how long it was going to be for."

In order to raise money to support Toft and his business, Usher is hosting a guest chef evening this Sunday. "We are just trying to help out a chef with his restaurant," he said. "We want to give him a push. It's his night at Sticky and the funds will go to him.

"He has to pay for all of his staff and for everything up until he closed. £5,000 would be enough to see him over a couple of weeks while it's closed."

At the time of publishing, the crowdfunding page total stood at £2,350 from 40 supporters who had donated funds in the past 12 hours.

Speaking to The Caterer, Toft was shocked at the reaction to the crowdfunding page, which was set up on his behalf.

He said: "Honestly, I'm really struggling to get my head round it. But, it's incredible. Bearing in mind I had nothing to do with the page, it all stemmed from a quick message to a mate. Gary jumped on it because he knows [something like this] could finish off a restaurant of our size. The amount raised so far already means I can pay the front of house staff and I'm not going to let down my suppliers.

"Without it, I don't know what would have happened. We possibly could have got through the weekend, but any longer than that and it would be a question of whether we would survive. We're in a very seasonal area, we take a huge percentage of our turnover in July and August and we rely on that to subsidise the quiet winter."

Visit the Just Giving page here >>

Sticky Walnut's Gary Usher rewards key staff with share options >>

Frustrated chef threatens deposits or closure over no-shows >>

Chef Gary Usher secures third site in south Manchester >>

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