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Local, NYC chefs to host fundraiser for East Wind chef battling cancer

Professional chefs, restaurateurs and community members are joining forces to show support for a Wading River chef battling cancer. 

East Wind Long Island will host “Super Ryan Fundraiser” Wednesday, July 31, from 7 to 11 p.m., and all proceeds will  benefit Ryan Augusta, who is the facility’s director of culinary arts.

Mr. Augusta, 35, was diagnosed in May 2018 with squamous cell carcinoma — a rare form of cancer caused by an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. The news, he said, came just two days before his youngest son, Cameron, was born.

Two and a half weeks later, Mr. Augusta, who lives in Huntington underwent surgery and additional treatment, returning home with a large scar and stitches near his neck.

His 6-year-old son Brandon, lover of all things comics, realized his father was recovering from surgery.

“Daddy, you’re like Superman,” Brandon said that day. “Nothing can beat you.”

The comment stuck with Mr. Augusta, he said, and prompted him to get a Superman tattoo. Once he returned to work at East Wind — where he oversees all eateries in the complex — he shared the story with his co-workers.

But in May 2019, just as he was preparing to celebrate one year of being cancer-free,  doctors discovered a rare, cancerous tumor in his neck, he said.

Two days later, he went under the knife again. He is expected to start  34 rounds of radiation and chemotherapy during the last week of July , he said.

“The doctors are recommending proton radiation, because it’s a more aggressive treatment plan, but it’s not covered under insurance,” Mr. Augusta said in a phone interview Tuesday. “They are really pushing for it, to get as far ahead of this as possible.”

To pay for the “significant financial strain to his family,” according to a press release, East Wind’s senior management team put together the fundraiser with help from Rocky Point’s Ralph Perrazzo of BBD’s, who opened a second location in Las Vegas in 2017.

“They wanted to do whatever they could for me, and that’s what the East Wind family is all about,” Mr. Augusta said.

East Wind general manager Louis Ambrosio said in an email that Mr. Augusta’s work ethic is “second to none.” The chef, who has been with East Wind for three years, is constantly giving back to the businesses in the shopping center, he said.

“He’s at work early in the A.M. and is here until the day is complete, no matter the time,” Mr. Ambrosio wrote Monday. “Ryan is very quiet in his demeanor but gets the job done and delegates to a staff of about 50. He’s well-respected by all in every department at our facility.”

The event will include a buffet, live entertainment, raffles, auctions and cuisine from more than 15 Long Island and New York City chefs, a press release said.

Those chefs include Stephan Bogardus of The Halyard in Greenport, Josh Eden of August in New York City and Steve Scalesse of Tullulah’s  in Bay Shore

Mr. Augusta said the chefs banding together to help him is “the true definition of our industry — that being the hospitality industry.”

“It’s an amazing feeling to have that kind of support from fellow professionals,” he said. “I just wish, one day, I can return the favor to someone who might need it.”

Five breweries will be serving up drinks at the event, including Sand City Brewing Company of Northport, Barrier Brewing of Oceanside, Root & Branch of Copiague, Evil Twin of Ridgewood and Grimm of Brooklyn.

Tickets are $75 per person or $700 for table of 10. A full list of participating chefs is available at Eastwindlongisland.com.

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