Cafe rallies to raise funds for chef with stage 4 cancer

Head chef Sebastian Tan, 26, of Strangers' Reunion has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. PHOTO: STRANGERS' REUNION

SINGAPORE - Strangers' Reunion, a cafe in Kampong Bahru Road, has taken to social media to raise funds for its cancer-stricken head chef Sebastian Tan.

The 26-year-old was diagnosed with stage four cancer about two weeks ago. It has spread from one lung to the other, and also to his brain, bones and lymph nodes, says the cafe's co-founder, Mr Ryan Kieran Tan, 30.

The chef, a Malaysian citizen who has worked in the cafe since it opened in 2013, faces costly treatments that could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. He is also the oldest child in his family, and a main contributor to the family's income.

Mr Tan says his employee has no personal insurance, and company insurance covers about $15,000 for each hospital admission.

The chef is currently undergoing radiotherapy for his brain tumour, having just attended his 10th radiation session today.

Both restaurants are usually closed on Tuesdays, but staff will be volunteering their time, working for free every Tuesday, starting tomorrow, from noon to 9pm. They will continue to do so until they raise about $100,000.

All sales on Tuesdays will go towards supporting the chef.

The target amount will be adjusted according to his condition and the cost of treatments.

Mr Tan says the response so far has been overwhelming. He posted on Facebook at 7.30pm on Sunday and it has garnered over 750 shares as of 5pm on Monday.

"I'm worried we might not have enough chefs to run the shop tomorrow. We might need to look for chefs to volunteer," he says.

The post describes the chef as someone who has tirelessly worked in the kitchen, "making sure that the food on your table tastes good".

It adds: "We are sure he's touched the lives of many who have been to Strangers' Reunion, and the many people who have worked with him."

Mr Tan and his staff are not concerned about whether the chef's cancer is treatable or not.

"To us it doesn't really matter," he says. "We just want him to get better."

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