Rania Samaha: Mother, Caretaker, Patient

If you read about Dina Sabra’s experience with breast cancer, I’m sure you remember her cousin and caretaker, Rania Samaha. Like Dina, breast cancer has played a huge role in Rania’s life. 

Rania As a Caretaker

Rania, is a caretaker to the maximum extent of the word. As a 9 year old, Rania was giving her diabetic mother diabetes shots and joined her mother in every hospital room her mother has ever been in. As a newlywed, Rania took in her father-in-law and looked after him until he passed of colon cancer 3 years later. As a 33 year old, Rania dropped everything and traveled to New York to look after her cousin Dina as she recovered from a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. 

Rania’s dedication to her family and their health came at a price. Before her mom was diagnosed with cancer, Rania owned her own preschool which her two little girls attended. “Because of my mom’s illness, I [had] shut down [the preschool] and it was heartbreaking,” said Rania, “[Owning and running the preschool] was one of the best things I did in my life.”

When Rania’s girls were only toddlers, her and her husband often took trips alone “to have time and remember who [they] were,” while the other stayed home with the kids. During the summer of 2012, Rania was due for a trip and planned to go to New York. Hesitant to leave her girls behind, Rania intended to cancel the trip. Coincidentally, before she cancelled, her parents called saying that her cousin Dina had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was being treated in New York. 

“When my mom had breast cancer I was the one that stayed in the hospital with her, showered her and took care of her so I knew that Dina going with her dad and brother was never going to work,” said Rania, “She needed the support of a female.” Instead of cancelling her ticket, Rania felt that it was a sign from God “telling [her] why [she] bought the ticket.” Sad to leave her girls for 2 weeks, the longest they had been apart, Rania explained the situation to them and headed off to New York. 

Recent photo of Rania Samaha with her two daughters

Fresh off the plane, Rania met Dina back at the hotel, right in time to see Dina remove her bandages and look at her body for the first time post-surgery. “She immediately started screaming that she wanted her old self back and she didn’t want this,” recalled Rania, “I remember just standing there and knowing that the moment was so much bigger than anything.” Overwhelmed, Rania excused herself and “took [her] credit card and started buying everything in front of [her].” While some people eat when they’re unconscious, Rania shops when she’s unconscious. 

Unsurprisingly, Dina’s recovery was emotionally taxing for both her and her cousin. Every night at 10pm Dina would have a breakdown, but Rania ”used to allow her only half an hour of crying a night,” so Dina could keep moving forward and not get swept up in the pain of the situation. “I was very strict about it,” said Rania. Whenever Rania felt overwhelmed, she never let Dina see it. “I never cried in front of her if things hurt,” said Rania, “I would pretend I had to… get something from the pharmacy, and that’s when I’d go cry or call a friend.” Even once Dina’s recovery in New York came to an end, Rania wanted to go home directly; however, “my husband insisted that I went to Chicago for three days to recover so I wouldn’t come home with how I felt about the whole thing,” said Rania. 

Because Dina didn’t have insurance in the US, she was recovering in a hotel rather than in a hospital. This meant that Rania’s role as caretaker extended to nurse-like duties, including emptying Dina’s bag of seroma. If being a caretaker and nurse wasn’t enough, Rania also acted as an entertainer and tried to make the most out of Dina’s situation. One night, the two ladies watched (or should I say attempted to watch) Magic Mike before realizing they felt “too old for this stuff.” For Rania, blowing off steam also meant blowing off cash. Rania said prancing around the hotel room wearing some of her random and funky new purchases really helped lift Dina’s spirit. 

Rania’s Pre-cancer

Just like Dina, Rania has always wondered if her family’s genetic link to cancer would catch up to her. Unlike Dina, Rania did have insurance in the US, so she traveled from Saudi Arabia to Houston, TX to do her first mammogram, and visit some friends while she was in town. While it took Dina multiple tests and doctors to detect cancer, it only took Rania one. Rania’s doctor detected precancer and encouraged Rania to move forward with a mastectomy immediately. Rania said that after seeing her mother and cousin battle breast cancer, and her father-in-law suffer through colon cancer, “[she] saw what the really hard parts were and realized … what you don’t want for yourself.”

Unwilling to make a crucial decision out of fear, Rania told her doctor that she was going to take 6 months to change her lifestyle and try to stop the cancer from spreading before moving forward with any sort of treatment. With Rania’s trust in God and dedication to her health, her mammogram showed the cancer got smaller 6 months later. The cancer continued to get smaller until it was completely gone by December of 2019, 3 years later. Rania then decided not to worry anymore. “I don’t want to imprison myself,” said Rania, “I don’t want to be this person that lets it control me anymore.” Rania also mentioned that she never told her parents about her precancer. “I didn’t want to put them through anything,” said Rania, “That’s part of my caretaker personality, I don’t like to involve people in my pain.”

Now, Rania is healthy and cancer-free. She has never gone back to a full-time job because she’s always been looking after someone; but, she has recently taken up coaching. She tells others what to eat, what breathing exercises to practice, and through it, she has learned to take better care of herself. “Maybe I overdo caretaking and I do it as a way to escape taking care of myself,” said Rania, “[Coaching] showed me in so many ways that, if I’m helping everyone, [I need to] help myself first.” 

With all the hardship and pain she has experienced, whether it was her own or that of another, Rania has managed to stay positive and to never pity herself. What got her through it? “God,” said Rania. When asked what advice she would give to other caretakers, Rania said, “If you believe in [something bigger than yourself], and you love yourself and have self care in your life … then you are able to then take care of others.” 

 

 

Share Your Story: Dina Sabra (Part 2/2)

Within 10 days of being diagnosed with DCIS breast cancer, Dina Sabra was off to Lenox Hill Long Island Jewish Hospital in the Upper East Side for a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Despite Dina’s Canadian citizenship and lack of insurance in the US, she chose to undergo her operation in the States because she would be treated much quicker as a patient paying out-of-pocket. Initially, the hospital wanted to keep Dina around for a few months before her operation, but they ended up being able to schedule her in three and a half weeks after her arrival. “I guess they felt sorry for me because I told them I have three kids back home… so they were able to schedule me in sooner,” said Dina. “It was really sweet of them.” 

Beating breast cancer wasn’t an easy fight for Dina, but thankfully, she didn’t fight it alone. Dina’s cousin, Rania, flew in from Saudi Arabia to stand by her side throughout her recovery. Rania showered Dina, medicated her, and even carried the emotional burden that Dina was finally ready to release. “My cousin would look at the watch and start having palpitations because.. every evening, around 10 pm I would get this crazy nervous breakdown and cry and cry and cry,” said Dina, “I needed to get it all out before I came back because I didn’t want to do that in front of the kids.” 

breast cancer survivor

Photo of Dina Sabra with her three children – Ismael (left), Layla (middle), and Hashem (right) – at her brother’s engagement party in January of 2013.

Dina’s dad also arranged for his friend and his friend’s wife, Nashwa, to drive down from New England to welcome Dina when she was dismissed from the hospital. “When I came out of the hospital and they were there I was annoyed with my dad,” said Dina, but that irritation quickly faded upon Dina’s discovery that Nashwa was a “Godsend.” She had experienced the same thing as Dina, and “was an amazing support, emotionally, physically,” said Dina. “I just felt so loved because she’d made this effort to drive all the way and spend time with me.” Although Nashwa is much older than Dina, they bonded deeply and are still in contact to this day. 

During the few weeks she spent recovering in Manhattan before she was ready to travel back to Dubai, Dina followed her gut and always did what felt right. While Dina’s friends found comfort in breast cancer support groups, it didn’t feel right to Dina. “For me that was something I was just not interested in doing,” said Dina,  “I would rather talk to a close friend.” However, something Dina did find comfort in, that helped her feel normal, was reading a book or watching reality TV shows. One of her favorites was “Married to Jonas.” “It’s mindless viewing, you just laugh and you don’t actually have to think about anything,” said Dina. 

As thankful as Dina was for all the support she received from friends and family after her operation, she decided to delegate her phone calls to her cousin for a while because some questions and comments were too invasive. “People mean well, but sometimes they would ask me questions I wasn’t ready to answer,” said Dina, “or it was too much sympathy and I didn’t want to feel like some sort of victim.” One of Dina’s friends mistakenly made an ignorant comment to Dina; “She said, ‘Well look at the bright side while we all have really saggy boobs, yours will be nice and perky,” said Dina. Looking back, Dina said she knew her friend meant well and was just trying to help her find the silver lining, but “at the time you that’s not what you’re looking for.”

After three weeks of recovering in New York, Dina was ready to travel back home to her family. Back in Dubai, Dina’s youngest, Layla, was still completely oblivious to her mother’s situation and was even irritated by her mother’s low energy.  “She was angry that I would usually carry her upstairs to put her in bed and I couldn’t carry her to put her in bed,” said Dina. “This was the one thing that [she] picked up on at that point.” In reality, “It took months and months to regain my mobility and kind of fell quasi normal,” said Dina. 

Even with a full recovery, Dina’s visit from breast cancer left her house out of order.  Breast cancer replaced her usual workout routine with a morbid fear of lymphedema. Although Dina’s doctors have cleared her to resume her active lifestyle, Dina said she has never gone back to her usual workout routine because “certain things make [her] really uncomfortable.” “I’ve never been able to do a full form push up, and I used to do that before,” said Dina. 

Despite Dina’s struggles, she chose to not place blame where it wasn’t due. She didn’t blame herself because she was very healthy, fit, sober, and her family has a rough history with breast cancer. “I never did the whole ‘why me God?’ thing,” said Dina, “it was just one of those things I accepted.” The only thing Dina felt guilty about was the financial burden the procedure posed on her family. But at the end of the day, “God wrote this,” said Dina. “I’m blessed that I have the support that I need and a husband that’s willing to fork out the crazy amounts of money that he did for me to get treated.” It’s been 9 years since Dina’s run-in with breast cancer and she is now healthy and cancer-free!

 

 

Share Your Story: Dina Sabra (Part 1/2)

“In my mind, it was always a matter of, not if but, when,” said Dina Sabra, Canadian-Egyptian breast cancer survivor. With breast cancer making an appearance in her maternal family history for over three consecutive generations, Dina knew breast cancer would be an unwelcome visitor in her life one day; however, she didn’t expect the visit to come so soon. Dina’s grandmother, mother and aunt all battled breast cancer post-menopause, prompting Dina’s shock when her battle came at age 36. 

As a result of her family’s relationship with breast cancer, Dina routinely visited a breast specialist in Dubai, UAE, where she, her husband and her three children were residing. In January of 2012, at one of her routine checkups, Dina did a mammogram and a tumor marker test. Her scans seemed clear, but her tumor marker lied at ‘borderline.’ “For whatever reason, I was still super chill and not worried,” said Dina, thinking back to the moment she received those results. 

Dina and her family planned to take a trip to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida during the summer of 2012. Before taking off to the most magical place on earth, Dina’s husband suggested she do a breast check up with a famous breast specialist, new friend and colleague of his at Emirates Hospital. Unhappy with Dina’s scans, the breast specialist, Dr. Sama Tewfik, told Dina to enjoy her vacation and an MRI would be scheduled for her when she returned. “Even at that point, I still wasn’t worried,” said Dina. “I was like, ‘I’m too young, they’re just being cautious… they’re doing their due diligence, [and] they don’t want to feel like they’ve cut corners.” 

Soon after returning from a great family vacation, Dina went to see Dr. Tewfik at Emirates Hospital for her MRI. “Even though the MRI was basically clear, she was still not comfortable with what she was seeing,” said Dina. One MRI snowballed into a mammogram and an excision biopsy. Finally, after multiple tests, the results were in… Dina was diagnosed with DCIS breast cancer and grade three comida cells. DCIS breast cancer is, “the very first stage when [the cancer] is still inside the [breast] ducts,” explained Dina. 

Young breast cancer survivor after recovery with her three children

Photo of Dina Sabra with her three children – Ismael (left), Layla (middle), and Hashem (right) – at her brother’s engagement party in January of 2013.

Unable to emotionally process what was happening to her, Dina had a more proactive response to the news. “Once I got the diagnosis the first thing I did was call my dad… because he’d gone through the same experience with my mom,” said Dina. Thankfully, Dina’s mother has recovered from breast cancer and is still alive and well at 73 years old. 

Dina was also tested for BRCA one and BRCA two genes after her diagnosis, and, although her results came back negative, Dina’s oncologist suspected that, given her family history, there may be some other genetic link that encouraged her breast cancer. Dina was then tested for her ancestry, and the blood work showed that she has 5% Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. According to the CDC, “Ashkenazi Jewish women are at higher risk for breast cancer at a young age.”

With chemotherapy radiation and a bilateral mastectomy on the table, Dina teetered back and forth between the two before turning to others for guidance. Dina’s dad leaned more towards the mastectomy because of her age. “He was like, ‘You’re too young to spend the rest of your life in doctor’s offices and always worrying,’” recalled Dina. Similarly, Dr. Tewfik recommended the mastectomy because grade three comida cells are very aggressive and the chance for recurrence at Dina’s age is high. 

Dina decided to undergo the bilateral mastectomy, as well as a skin and nipple sparing mastectomy (reconstructive surgery), in the United States upon her doctor and father’s recommendations. Dina felt this was the right decision for her situation because, although a bilateral mastectomy is more aggressive than chemotherapy, all her breast tissue would be removed, preventing the spread of the tumor and eradicating existing cancer cells. 

Confident in her decision, Dina was still more concerned with planning her travel, arranging doctors’ appointments and researching, than dealing with the emotional strain of the situation. “A friend of mine was on the phone with me one day and she’s like, ‘I’m actually worried you haven’t cried about this yet,’ and I really hadn’t because I was just dealing with the logistics,” said Dina. “It didn’t really hit me until we set a date for the surgery.”

With only 10 days between her diagnosis and her planned travel to Manhattan for her treatment, Dina arranged for her mother to fly in from Egypt to look after her three kids – who were 6, 12 and 14 years old at the time. Dina, wanting to protect her children from the reality of the situation, downplayed the news to her kids. “I said, “Nana had breast cancer, look at her, she’s fine so you don’t need to worry about it,” said Dina. A few days after subtly breaking the news to her children, Dina was off to New York for her treatment and the real battle began… 

 

Cape and Islands Bakes Starts Today!

Starting today, August 3rd through August 9th, you can show your support for breast cancer research by participating in this years Cape and Islands Bakes for Breast Cancer! Funds will be donated to support the research of Dr. Rachel Freedman, and her mission to save lives. All you need to do is visit one of the amazing restaurants and bakeries listed below and purchase a delicious dessert. While some participants will be donating half the proceeds from their dessert menu; others are donating all the proceeds of a single item so remember to ask your server what dessert supports Cape and Islands Bakes! Due to covid-19 restrictions we also recommend calling or visiting the website of your desired location to learn of their updated serving and safety methods. Bakes for Breast Cancer is extremely grateful to our donors and respects those who were not able to join us this year because of the pandemic. We look forward to many of them rejoining us in 2021!

If you’re unable to make it to one of these fantastic locations, donations are still accepted here. Your donations are greatly appreciated and make significant strides in the fight against breast cancer.

 

Alden Park 

An independently owned American restaurant, Alden Park is donating half the proceeds from all the desserts on their menu! Options include fried dough, brownies, churros, cheesecake, chocolate torte, peanut butter explosion, and ice cream.

160 Colony Place Plymouth, MA 02360

508-830-6777

 

Bleu

An authentic French restaurant Bleu is prized for its incredible atmosphere and service!

10 Market St. Mashpee, MA 02649

508-539-7907

 

Cru Oyster Bar
Cru features a premier oyster bar with French and Mediterranean influences backdropped by a pristine waterfront location in the heart of Nantucket Harbor.

1 Straight Wharf Nantucket, MA 02554

508-228-9278

 

Espresso Love

17 Church Street Edgartown, MA 02539

508-627-9211

 

Landfall

Woods Hole’s premier waterfront dining where you can experience fresh local cuisine.

9 Luscombe Ave, Woods Hole, MA 02540

508-548-1758

 

Maison Villiatte

A classic local bakery where you can try the pink meringue in support of Breast Cancer!

267 Main St. Falmouth, MA 02540

774-255-1855

 

Nantucket Bake Shop

The World-Famous Nantucket Bakeshop, where you can support Cape and Island Bakes by tasting the Boston Crème Pie!

17 1/2 Old South Road Nantucket, MA 02554

508-228-2797

 

Osteria La Civetta

Authentic Italian dining inspired by meals around the table with friends and family.

133 Main Street Falmouth, MA 02540

508-540-1616

 

Osterville Fish

A fish shop might seem like a strange addiction to a baking event, but Osterville is generously donating the proceeds from their Cape and Islands Baked Cookie for this event only!

2952 Falmouth Road Osterville, MA 02655

508-420-0500

 

Pain D’avigino

This bakery founded in 1992 features various baked goods, but to satisfy your sweet tooth and join the fight against breast cancer check out the gluten Free Goat Cheese Cake made with local Vermont Creamery goat cheese and sweetened with honey, filled with a passion fruit gelée, a top a white chocolate coconut crust and encompassed by a coconut milk glaze!

15 Hinckley Road Hyannis, MA 02601

508-778-8588

 

Sagamore Inn

The Sagamore Inn is donating half the proceeds from every item on the dessert menu! They continue to provide excellent service and look forward to you tasting their chocolate a la mode, various homemade pies, and cheesecake!

1131 Sandwich Road Sagamore, MA 02561

508-888-9707

 

The Dunes at Winnetu Oceanside Resort

The only restaurant on South Beach at Martha’s Vineyard. You can expect some incredible creations from their head pastry chef Caitlin D’Amico. Be sure to try the Lemon Raspberry Hope Bar to support Cape and Islands Bakes!

31 Dunes Road Edgartown, MA 02539

508-627-3663

 

The Terrace at The Charlotte Inn

Classic French cuisine along with elegant fine dining.

27 S. Summer St. Edgartown, MA 02539

508-627-6227

 

The West End in Hyannis

In the Heart of Hyannis’ historic downtown, The West End restores the rich history of an iconic Cape Cod building with a modern twist.

20 Scudder Ave. Hyannis, MA 02601

508-775-7677

 

 

The Sagamore Inn: Cape & Islands Bakes for Breast Cancer

Among a generous group of restaurants and bakeries the Sagamore Inn is participating in this years Cape and Islands Bakes for Breast Cancer, August 3rd-9th. A fantastic family restaurant, The Sagamore Inn has a colorful history from its foundation in 1900 and is now owned and operated by Michael and Suzanne Bilodeau. A fixture of the community, the Sagamore Inn will be donating the proceeds from all the desserts on their menu to Bakes for Breast Cancer.

“Supporting Bakes for Breast Cancer allows our restaurant to support a very special cause which has a positive impact on our guests and staff either directly or indirectly. The funds raised through Cape and Island Bakes continue to support prevention, continued research and treatment of Breast Cancer”, Beth Ridge, spokesperson, stated.

Bakes for Breast Cancer is extremely thankful to the Sagamore Inn and all its supporters continuing to back its mission despite the difficult conditions for restaurants everywhere. A host of protocols and generally slower business has not made life easy for anyone in the hospitality industry.

“The changing guidelines during the covid-19 pandemic has and continues to impact our industry- it forced us to close our doors and quickly move to a takeout only restaurant with limited staff. As we moved through the phases, we opened to limited outdoor dining. Each phase has a unique impact on staffing, operations, and finance. What it hasn’t changed is our goal to provide amazing good and exceptional service” Beth stated.

Restaurants in Massachusetts have only recently started offering indoor dining again, but business is nowhere near back to normal. Despite a difficult-working environment, the Sagamore Inn continues to look beyond themselves to their communities. “Our involvement in our community is a priority to all at the Sagamore inn- it is a partnership- they are a good part of why we are still in business. It is partnership!” Beth stated.

Regardless, diners at the Sagamore Inn have much to look forward to this summer! “The summer of 2020 will bring spacious outside dining on our deck, under the tent, on the green or inside our dining area. We will be serving our full menu, with daily specials and entertainment. Our customers will continue to enjoy our delicious food with amazing service.” Beth stated. And it would have been remiss not to ask which desserts you should be on the lookout for. “Our customers favorite desserts? We can name a few- Chocolate brownie ala mode, any of our homemade pies or our cheesecake”.

The Sagamore Inn is located at 1131 Sandwich Rd, Sagamore, and further details can be found on their website.

Don’t forget to check out the other participating locations or register your own business!

 

Cape and Islands Bakes for Breast Cancer!

Whether it as a home away from home or a favorite vacation spot, Cape Cod has a special place in the hearts of many New Englanders. Carol Sneider, founder, and president of Bakes for Breast Cancer has proudly called the cape her home for the last 35 years. “It’s part of me” Carol said, “Doing something with a community I’ve called home for so long is important to me”.

Not only is the Cape important in our personal ties, but it has a special history to Breast Cancer as well. Women on Cape Cod have a 20% higher rate of Breast Cancer than the national average. Troubling numbers for a community with a population of just over 200 thousand, but every organization is doing their part. As of 2019 Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis is a member of the Dana Farber Cancer Care Collaborative. Providing Cape Cod Hospital with ongoing support services and consultations, an important step towards promoting health and awareness. Similarly, Bakes for Breast Cancer strives to support breast cancer research of Dr. Rachel Freedman of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and grow an event which can benefit so many on the Cape & Islands.

Cape and Islands Bakes for Breast Cancer is set take place this August 3rd-9th. Restaurants and bakeries located on Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard have participated in Bakes for Breast Cancer events for years. Now they have their own event distinguishing themselves from Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer. Yet it is still a difficult period for the hospitality industry because of how Covid-19 has affected business. We understand that not everyone will have the means to participate but hope everyone that is able will. It is not about the size of the donation but the commitment to helping us fight Breast Cancer. “Every desert will make a difference this year” Carol said.

Participating restaurants will be donating 100% of the proceeds from a desert or their 50% of their dessert menu to Bakes for Breast Cancer. So be sure to satisfy your sweet tooth while you are enjoying the summer sun!

You can follow these links to find participating locations or register your own business for this years Cape and Islands Bakes for Breast Cancer- all you need are desserts to sell!

 

Not Quite Business as Usual

The outbreak of Covid-19 threw a wrench into the works of life as we knew it. It is a struggle for everyone who has lost employment or is trying to find a new normal in their daily jobs. While they may normally lie in the back of our minds the hospitality industry continues as a backbone of our society to be there when we need them most. Through quick adaptation, going to takeout and adding provisions and pantry items, they have proven they are not going anywhere soon. Their responses were creative and put into action as quickly as possible doing everything not only to stay open but to serve the communities they are in.

Restaurants, bakeries, and ice cream shops have proudly served with a smile for years, but even being essential businesses has not made this pandemic an easy journey. The effects have ranged from temporary to permanent closures or surviving through tak

eout and delivery, outdoor dining and eventually indoor as well. It is a rickety bridge to cross as just one misstep could be enough to shut a small business down for good. Phase 2, of Governor Charlie Baker’s reopening process allowed restaurants to resume indoor dining as of June 22nd.  Jeff Gates, an Aquitaine Group partner, and a member of the board at both the Massachusetts Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association, is optimistic about doors opening this week. “I look forward to guests joining us indoors this Monday. Our staff looks forward to continuing their diligent effort to provide an outstanding meal and service in a safe environment” Gates stated. A goal that other restaurant owners will surely share as they prepare their staff and interiors to meet the states strict safety regulations.

While diners venture in for their first chance to eat in a restaurant since March, some will understandably be wary of taking the extra risk too soon. Restaurants owners and staff are doing everything to keep their stores safe and sterilized, but patrons will still need to remain conscious of their own health. “We need our guests to wear masks when they arrive, move in the restaurant, and frankly leave when they cannot maintain social distance in their lives away from our small business. Our staff have their health checked, they wash hands and sanitize, surfaces are cleaned, masks are worn, gloves are on when handling prepared foods. We are very careful and regulated industry already; we have this under control” Gates stated. Customers should investigate safety guidelines online and on social media for their chosen restaurant to maintain a safe environment for everyone. This will be an incredibly stressful period for waiters other dining staff. Remember that they are doing their best to provide safe and exemplary service and wouldn’t mind some extra kindness in these difficult times.

Above all, it is an exciting opportunity for small businesses to continue to operate. Unfortunately, several restaurants in the Boston are have already announced that they will be closing for good amid the pandemic. Among the closures are Stella’s, O’Leary’s, Backyard Betties. Estimates for total restaurant closures by the end of the pandemic are around 25% in mass, but Gates continues to look towards a brighter future for local businesses. “Any number greater than zero restaurants losing the battle to reopen is too many. I am hopeful the number will be less than the 20-30% forecast. Thankfully, the weather has been delightful, so outdoor dining has given some restaurants an early pop. Don’t forget the changes to PPP were extremely helpful and a big step in the right direction” Gates stated.

This community has supported us, including The Aquitaine Group (now 21 years), and it’s our time to support them. Fortunately, there are options for everyone’s comfort level. What they have done is exhausting to think about and we are sure they are working harder now than pre Covid-19.  It is up to us to decide how our communities will look in a healthy future.  For our communities to recover as we knew them it will require the aid of the patrons they’ve proudly served; from bakeries, restaurants, ice cream shop and everything in-between.

Ultimately, we know for our events, Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer, Cape & Islands Bakes for Breast Cancer and Rhode Island Bakes for Breast Cancer,  this year will be different but we know we are fortunate to have the support from an industry who always gives back.

 

 

Bringing Back the Bread

If you have not completely unplugged during quarantine you’ve most likely seen #breadbaking storming across Instagram and Twitter. Across the globe users are posting a range of impressive creations from brioche burger buns to sour dough with an image of their dog scored into them. Among the deluge of new hobbies being shown off across social media it is surprising to see perfectly baked bread a sour dough loafs thrown in the mix. Prompted by empty shelves at the grocery store and too much free time, bread baking has been called a return to our heritage. In a period when all our daily comforts are cut off, like enjoying a meal in a restaurant, it is easy to place ourselves back in the time of our ancestors. Originating as far back as 8000 BC, baking bread is an integral facet of human history. The ingredients needed to bake your own are simple. At its core you will just need flour, water and yeast. There are plenty of beginner bread recipes out there that anyone could try. The process though requires patience and a good amount of skill. Which is why so many have found it to be a calming and fulfilling hobby. There is no rushing the process. Waiting for the dough to rise takes us out of our own schedules puts us on its time, and watching the yeast activate and your dough-baby grow is like a science experiment. The tactile act of kneading the dough provides the satisfactions of working on something with your own hands. A feeling hard to come by in a technologically optimized world. You don’t need to appreciate the scope of breads history to understand the satisfaction of creating it. Chiefly the final product is something to be proud of. It may come with some mistakes (and several YouTube tutorials), but the outcome is well worth the effort. A new experience for those newbie bakers who were inspired by the trend to pick up the hobby, and surely a sign of more creations to come.

To both our past and present #breadbaking has shown us the power of staying connected. Even while cut off from family and friends it is important to remember those in need. Bakes for Breast Cancer is continuing its fight in the current crisis and will continue to find safe ways to continue our mission. It’s amazing that so many are discovering the joys of baking. We’d love to see some of your creations and recipes, so please share them with us at info@bakes4bc.org.

 

Meet the Chefs of Sugar Rush…Kenny Hoshino

Growing up in Newton, Massachusetts, Kenny Hoshino found comfort in the kitchen from a young age, watching and pitching in as his parents and siblings cooked hearty dishes like chicken cutlets, matzo ball soup and on special occasions, his father’s favorite sushi recipes.  

It wasn’t until his time spent studying Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Amherst that he exercised that love for cooking outside of home with a job at a local Bertucci’s pizza restaurant. There, Kenny moved around the kitchen quickly, making pizza dough and testing his hand at every station.

After graduating from UMass with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience in 2009, Kenny took a position at Chez Albert, a French restaurant near his alma mater where he spent two years as a pastry chef and line cook. At Chez Albert, Kenny felt at home in the chaotic and frenetic environment of a busy kitchen. He enjoyed the pressure of crafting dishes from start to finish and found his identity expressing himself creatively by working with his hands.

In 2011, he took a leap of faith and moved to Charleston, South Carolina where, after a few months shucking oysters at Cypress, he put his degree to use with a job in laboratory research. The lab role was short-lived, and Kenny followed his passion back to Amherst to return to Chez Albert as pastry chef and sous chef, eventually helping the team to open a new location in a larger space.

Kenny moved to Boston in March of 2014 and began working at Michael Scelfo’s Harvard Square restaurant, Alden & Harlow in April, where his nights were spent at the restaurant’s sauté and bar manger stations. Seven months later, Chef Scelfo saw his knack for all things pastry and offered Kenny a position as baker and pastry chef. After Scelfo’s sophomore concept Waypoint opened in 2016, Kenny began applying his talents to the restaurant’s always-changing, cult-followed sweet and savory treats. In 2019, Kenny helped open The Longfellow Bar, directly above Alden & Harlow. Today, Kenny leads the restaurants’ pastry and bread programs, and oversees a growing team of buddying pastry chefs.

When he’s not up with the sun prepping bread and desserts every morning, Kenny finds an outlet in music, with a basic knowledge of piano, bass and guitar, and enjoys painting with watercolors and hard pastels.

Kenny is participating in Sugar Rush on Tuesday, July 23 at Oak + Rowan! Enjoy a 5-course dessert tasting menu that raises money for breast cancer research.
Tickets are available on Eventbrite!

 

Meet the Chefs… Aurea-Anne McCrumm of the Sagamore Inn

Aurea-Anne McCrumm
Sagamore Inn

Standing on a stepstool in the kitchen of her Italian grandmother’s house in the Boston area, Aurea-Anne at the age of eight, fell in love with the art of baking. Now thirty-five years later, she continues to follow her craft in her second season at the Sagamore Inn as Head Baker creating her specialty cakes pies and desserts working with and for the Bilodeau family. 

Self-taught, she continues her passion of baking by learning from watching other master chefs and reading on the latest techniques. The dream of attending a culinary art school was put on hold as she raised her children, but this did not stop her from achieving her goals. She gathers information from every source and has been fortunate to have baked with and for a number of private customers on Cape Cod. Aurea- Anne has also had the opportunity to created beautiful pastries pies cakes and desserts for the Dunbar Tea Room in Sandwich.

Visit the Sagamore Inn to enjoy one of Aurea-Anne’s delicious dessert creations during Cape & Islands Bakes for Breast Cancer.