Last year, we introduced you to Matt Farrer, a cook who’s worked his way through the kitchens at the Rainier Club, Crush, Canlis, Willows Inn, and Restaurant Zoe. In October 2012, Farrer was diagnosed with colon cancer, and in January of 2013 every chef he’s ever worked with banded together to put on one star-studded benefit to help the guy recoup some of the astronomical costs of hospital stays and chemo. Approximately $40,000 was raised—enough for organizers to consider the event a success.
But unfortunately, Farrer is still in the hospital, still battling colon cancer, and still racking up medical bills. So on February 16 the benefit is back, with most of the big names from last year—James Sherrill of Re:Public (but worked with Farrer at Restaurant Zoe), Jason Wilson of Crush and Miller's Guild, Canlis’ Jason Franey, and the Rainier Club’s Bill Morris—plus Local 360 chef Stew Navarre and pastry chef Dionne Himmelfarb of the Ethan Stowell restaurants.
Event organizer and Farrer friend Stacy Paczan says they’re positioning the benefit this year to be an annual event held Valentine’s Day weekend, as a way of spreading a little good cheer in a time of year service industry folks don’t notoriously love. The fundraiser is being called Saint James after Farrer’s late father, who he’d hoped to name his own restaurant after, and was even dreaming about the old Le Gourmand space (now housing Brimmer and Heeltap).
Partnering in the event is Big Table, a Spokane-based non-profit designed to help people working in the hospitality industry as they go through periods of transition and crisis. Saint James will act as a Seattle launch of sorts for the organization, according to Paczan.
What was last year a relatively small and expensive affair, held at Canlis with $250-tickets, is this year designed to be “a little more accessible for people in the service industry,” says Paczan. It will be held at 1927 Events, and tickets for the five-course meal, plus Proletariat wines, is $120. The goal is to raise at least $50,000, with the majority of the proceeds going directly to Farrer’s medical bills, and a small percentage allocated to Big Table’s crisis care fund. Tickets to the dinner, as well as the $25 after-party at Re:Public, can be purchased online. Donations accepted there as well.