Dunrobin couple fundraising with food for Bahamas

KANATA – A day after Hurricane Dorian flattened his other hometown, Dunrobin’s Mike Beun loaded his pickup with supplies, and drove to the Bahamas to help.

Driving through the hurricane as it blasted North Carolina, he hit Miami, chartered a boat and headed to Hopetown in the Abaco Islands, Bahamas to help his neighbours there.

Mike Beun and Jean Spicer are hosting a fundraiser to help Bahamas recover from last September's hurricane. Courtesy Jean Spicer
Mike Beun and Jean Spicer are hosting a fundraiser to help Bahamas recover from last September’s hurricane. Courtesy Jean Spicer

Now, a month later, Mike and his wife, Jean Spicer, together with some of their friends and well-known chefs like Cheryl T. McKenzie, Rene Rodriquez, Joe Thottungal, Neil Mather, Michael Blackie, Kenton Leier, Clifford Lyness and Steph the Grilling Gourmet, are holding a Bahamian-inspired fundraiser on Nov. 21. With the support of a group of friends to help organize, all who have a strong affinity to Hopetown, they are raising money, 100 per cent of which will go directly to feed and rebuild the Hopetown community.

“The residents there have lost it all, their school, community centre, library, police station, post office and businesses,” said Spicer whose property was one of 30 per cent that survived the devastation. “And they don’t have a fall back: most of the people there have multiple jobs – the guy who rents you a bike also waits tables and rents out mooring balls in the harbour. All that is gone. Because of their isolation, being a tiny little cay and having relatively shallow water, it’s hard to get heavy equipment in there. There’s no dock, no ferries. No grocery store. There are volunteers feeding hundreds of people three meals a day, but someone has to pay for that.”

The fundraiser hopes to generate up to $50,000 to continue to feed locals and support the local volunteer fire and rescue department in their efforts to rebuild.

It’s the third time the couple, who live in Dunrobin, have pitched in to help their local communities. During the disastrous 2017 Constance Bay spring floods and the 2018 Dunrobin tornado, they volunteered and opened their home to survivors.

Hope for Bahamas is an amazing culinary evening featuring incredible celebrity chefs, vintners and breweries. The evening will get a high energy boost from TV host and auctioneer, Derick Fage for live and silent auctions, as well as a steel drum band.

Tickets are $100 and available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hope-for-bahamas-a-fundraising-event-for-hopetown-tickets-74481593451.  Donations are also welcomed.

The Hope for Bahamas Organizing committee includes Executive Chef Neil Mather of the Lord Elgin Hotel; Lesley Mather of JeleDesign; Veronica Farmer of TrueCourse Communications; Caroline Spicer of Event Design Group; Julie Beun of J Beun Media; Alana Haining of Holiday Inn & Suites; Rick Chase of Freedom 55 Financial and Trudy Price of Algonquin College.

Chefs participating include:

  • Chef Cheryl T. McKenzie, Executive Sous Chef of the British Colonial Hilton Nassau, Bahamas; Winner of Chef of the Year Nassau
  • Rene Rodriquez, Chef Grill 41; Winner Top chef Canada & Beat Bobby Flay
  • Joe Thottungal, Chef Coconut Lagoon & Thali; Winner Gold Medal plates and Silver Medal Canadian Culinary championships
  • Michael Blackie: NeXt Ottawa; Award-winning chef, Food Network star of various shows including Iron Chef Canada
  • Steph the Grilling Gourmet: Host of Grill This, Smoke That on Rogers TV (Season 3 airing soon)
  • Neil Mather: Executive Chef Lord Elgin Hotel; former Executive Chef British Colonial Hilton Nassau, Chef of the year Ottawa CCFCC & Ottawa Restaurant Association
  • Kenton Leier: Executive Chef, National Arts Centre
  • Clifford Lyness: Executive Chef, Brookstreet Hotel