Foodie Events / Restaurants

Top Houston Chef Opens Up About Fighting Cancer at Showcase Dinner Featuring Jim Crane’s Wines

An Emotional Night for CanCare

BY // 06.04.21
photography Jacob Power

Briefly departing his heralded position in the kitchen, Chef Robert del Grande steps out before a fully booked gathering of CanCare supporters to share his take on having cancer. He delivers his part witty, party serious observations in little more than three minutes before he returns to the downstairs hearth at B&B Butchers & Restaurant to oversee preparation of a lavish four-course wine dinner benefiting the nonprofit.

The star chef has been rather circumspect about his cancer after putting it on the back burner following treatment more than a decade ago. On this evening he doesn’t mention prostate cancer, but he does reveal the vexatious feelings that come with a cancer diagnosis and of instantly becoming a statistic enveloped in percentages.

“When the problem is cancer you seem to turn into a probability awfully quickly,” he says. “That’s when I came to realize that humans are not fond of probability. We can tolerate the weather — 30 percent of rain. That’s probably OK. But when it comes to your life . . . I can remember ‘It’s 65 percent this and 75 percent that, maybe 80 percent here.’

“That’s where CanCare comes in. Statistics aren’t very emotional. You need somebody to guide you that has a positive attitude. . . I think that type of emotional support gets you out of all the charts and graphs and into something that means something. That positive mindset is the important thing.”

Providing that emotional and positive support to both cancer patients and their caregivers is the cornerstone of CanCare, notes CEO Darcie Champagne Wells. CanCare pairs survivors with patients and provides supportive companionship for the caregivers.

Guests paying $500 each had come to support CanCare and to enjoy the magic of del Grande’s culinary talents. He did not disappoint and neither did the selection of wines donated by Aperture, Jim Crane’s California wine interest, and introduced by the winery’s CFO Simon Haidamous.

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Aperture wines (Photo by Jacob Power)
Jim Crane’s Aperture wines poured at the CanCare wine dinner at B&B Butchers & Restaurant (Photo by Jacob Power)

Berg Hospitality’s Ben Berg made a brief appearance to welcome diners who seemed unconcerned that the dinner had to be moved from The Annie Café & Bar due to a kitchen fire to the highly acclaimed steakhouse. “We’ll be back in four weeks,” Berg says of the reopening The Annie and Turner’s.

On their departure, diners were each gifted with a Vinglacé wine glass, a sweet deal considering that the popular insulated glasses retail for around $35.

The fundraiser was a prelude to the September 30 CanCare luncheon that will feature cancer survivor Shawntell McWilliams as guest speaker.

PC Seen: Fall luncheon chairs Donna and Norman Lewis, Bonnie and David Weekley, Jeanie and Jim Janke, Franelle Rogers, Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin, Elia and Michael Gabbanelli, Donna Josey Chapman, Cathy Brock, Megan Vondra, Betty and Jess Tutor, Tammy and Tim Andreas, and Nancy and Tommy Tucker.

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