Strong friendships are forged in the hospitality industry. It might be the many hours spent cooking, elbow to elbow, in a confined space.
Whatever the reason, when Bistro Molines head chef Garreth Robbs put the call out for mates to grow a beard for a good cause, they didn’t hesitate to shelve the shaving cream.
Cessnock couple Anthony Bower and Jaye Hoelscher experienced every parents’ nightmare in July 2017. Their son, Ashton Glenn Bower, was born at 31 weeks and died just three days later from a rare developmental lung condition. The news hit Robbs and his wife Felicity hard. Their daughter Audrey is eight months old.
“We were pregnant at the same time they were. Our kids were supposed to grow up together and to have to watch Anthony and Jaye go through this … it’s been tough,” Robbs said. “We knew Ashton was going to be born prematurely but everyone thought he would be fine. Once he was born, though, doctors realised he had a serious lung condition. In the end there was nothing they could do for him.”
Both families are hoping to make a positive out of a negative by raising money for Beards of Hope, which benefits Bears of Hope Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support. According to the charity, every day in Australia six babies are stillborn, and three die within 12 months of birth. Robbs and his 25-strong Beards of Hope team are called The Crumbcatchers.
“We’ve ticked over the $25,000 mark and it’s broken a new record,” he said. “I told everyone I wasn’t growing a beard for less than 10 grand so I’ve been using my contacts in the industry to drum up a bit of support. That’s what hospitality is all about. If someone needs a hand, people help.”
Rascal is serving a special Crumbcatchers burger until Monday: a beef patty with cheese, bacon jam, beetroot and Tooheys New battered pickles. Bao Brothers and Covered in Crumbs will also be donating proceeds from the sale of a limited edition bao and cookie.
The Crumbcatchers will be auctioning off signed jerseys from the Sydney Swans, Newcastle Jets and the 2003 Newcastle Knights as well as horse-racing memorabilia at a Shave Party on September 1 at the Caledonian Hotel in Aberdare. All are welcome.
“Anthony has had a beard for the past six or seven years and Jaye has never seen him clean shaven before. It’ll be a bit of a laugh when it goes,” Robbs said.