B.C. Hospitality Foundation Industry Games raise funds for hospitality workers in need
For the Crack Off challenge, chefs must first break a dozen eggs and separate them into whites and yolks, and then “meringue-a-tang” by hand-whisking the whites into a stiff foam and turning their bowls upside down over their heads to prove their completion of the task. For the win, they will “Cool Hand Luke” by eating six hard-boiled eggs. While this all sounds like a crazy reality-TV episode, it’s actually part of Skills and Spills, the inaugural B.C. Hospitality Foundation Industry Games, which take place October 20 at the Hellenic Cultural Centre (4500 Arbutus Street). Now’s the time for those in the hospitality industry to band together as teams, get ready to compete for a good cause, and enjoy plenty of madcap fun.
Bing Smith, chair of the BCHF and cochair of the event, can’t wait to see participants prove their mettle as they help raise money for the organization’s funding pot. Started in 2006, the BCHF provides postsecondary-education scholarships as well as financial support for injured and ill hospitality workers.
“People get sick. People get hurt. When everything else fails, they come to us. We review their case, and we provide them with money, or in a couple of cases we’ve provided equipment, like wheelchairs or a lift to get to the second floor of their house,” Smith explains during a phone chat.
Thus far, the BCHF has disbursed $250,000 to 42 workers in need. For the last three years, it’s organized the Tip Out to Help campaign, which calls for those in the industry to contribute to a virtual tip jar in support of fellow workers in need.
This year, though, the BCHF wanted to make the campaign bigger and better. “We came up with an idea. We could get them [industry workers] into fundraising and have some fun, too,” Smith says. The idea turned into Skills and Spills, which invites up to 40 teams of six to eight people to raise a minimum of $1,000 pre-games, submit a $100 gift certificate from their establishment, dress up in wacky costumes, and show up on the big day prepared to battle valiantly. So far, participants include Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar, the Roxy, Tap & Barrel, the Fish Shack, and others.
Preliminary events feature a coat-check challenge for hosts and hostesses and a Reduce, Re-use, and Recycle! game that will have dishwashers breaking down cardboard boxes, squeezing water from wet sponges into plastic bottles, and sorting items into recycling bins.
The main event will be the Hospitality Grind Obstacle Course, which will have team members complete nine gruelling tasks like the Business Card Suck & Blow, a relay that involves passing a business card by mouth between team members without dropping it. For the ultimate win, team members will tie themselves together with a massive server’s apron and dash for the finish line. Besides bragging rights, there will be prizes, including all the donated gift certificates going to the team that raises the most money.
Industry members and their friends are encouraged to come and cheer on their favourite team; admission is by donation. There’ll be food trucks and celebrity judges, and hip-hop artist Prevail will emcee. Smith hopes participants and spectators will have fun while learning about the serious work the BCHF does.
Individuals who’ve received support from the BCHF include Owen Lightly, chef and co-owner of the Butter on the Endive catering company, who has stage-four colon cancer, and Alicia Appleton, a server in Nanaimo who was brutally assaulted during a home invasion.
Bruce James, a bartender at Doolin’s Irish Pub, was blindsided in March of last year by an autoimmune disease that caused him to lose 47 pounds and be off work for four months. Needless to say, the disease made life incredibly difficult. “Oh, wait—I’m not working. Oh, wait—my wife is pregnant. Oh, wait—I have a mortgage. You don’t realize the impact until it happens to you,” he says by phone.
Fortunately, coworkers and friends banded together and threw a fundraiser for James featuring a burlesque group that performed for free; they raised $3,000, which the BCHF then matched. James was so overcome with gratitude that in November, he stripped at his own “Magic Bru” fundraiser, which allowed him to repay the BCHF, and he’ll be doing it again this November.
“It was pretty amazing to feel that support from people I work with and people in the industry. I’ll do whatever I can to give back,” James says. It’s that spirit of generosity that will get industry workers to come together at Skills and Spills to raise money—and kick some ass while they’re at it.
Those who want to get involved can find more information and register at the BC Hospitality Foundation website. Registration will be open until all 40 spots are full.