HIV-Positive Cooks smashing a stigma: A great idea

HIV-Positive Cooks smashing a stigma: A great idea

HIV-Positive Cooks smashing a stigma: A great idea

Toronto Canada has a group of foodies on a mission. These gourmet cooks created a pop-up restaurant called June’s on Tuesday. This is not a food truck or a gimmick: June’s on Tuesday is using food and servers to smash a stigma. Everyone preparing and serving the food is HIV-Positive per a recent Telegraph UK article. The cooks/servers are a pretty diverse group. No idea where they contracted HIV and frankly, that is none of our business. Which is the point of June’s on Tuesday. To educate and stop the fear and stigma of HIV.

Located in Toronto, the restaurant called June’s on Tuesday was serving its first meals prepared by HIV-positive cooks to dispel any notion that food preparation can spread the virus.

Wearing aprons printed with such messages as “Kiss the HIV+ cook” and “I got HIV from pasta. Said no one ever,” June’s 14 HIV-positive cooks will be serving customers who prepaid to reserve their tables.

The two nights Casey House had the event were sold out. And now for the soapbox moment: People who are living with AIDS/HIV need to make a living like everyone else. Yes, they have a condition that can be infectious. But following food service guidelines is not optional. For anyone in food service. Then again, the same applies to the kid chopping veggies at Five Guys. Or the bad hamburger meat at the grocery store. Or even your spouse cooking while sick. At home, most of us don’t wear a hair net or gloves when prepping food. Even with a cold or flu. So we share. And when we are out to eat, we share.

The idea of June’s came in response to a survey last month that found only half of Canadians would eat food prepared by someone with HIV.

The survey was conducted by Casey House, a non-profit that planned the pop-up, or temporary, restaurant, said the group’s head Joanne Simons. Casey House provides health care for people with HIV/AIDS.

What a great fundraiser and, hopefully, it will smash a stigma. Please note that these are a diverse group of cooks. The thing they have in common is living with HIV/AIDS as they discuss here. Again, HIV does not mean “unsafe.” In fact, Junes on Tuesday is probably safer than most eateries. After all, Salmonella comes from badly-prepared food and unwashed veggies and you truly do not know how clean that water glass, silverware, plate or napkin is. And the lemon in your water? A source of nasty stuff, too. Somehow I doubt this will be an issue at a pop-up restaurant like June’s. Simple reason is: there is too much to lose if something goes wrong.

Casey House is taking a bold step forward by igniting a conversation around the stigma people living with HIV experience. The new campaign, Break Bread Smash Stigma was inspired by a study revealing shocking statistics around Canadians’ perceptions of people living with HIV/AIDs.

Despite the fact that HIV cannot be transmitted through food preparation or sharing of food, according to the Smash Stigma survey, only half of Canadians would knowingly share food with, or eat food prepared by, someone who is HIV positive. This misconception inspired Casey House to open the world’s first pop-up restaurant run by HIV positive chefs.

Break Bread Smash Stigma is a fantastic, catchy theme. And if this makes someone less fearful, then Casey House succeeded. People with HIV/AIDS still need to make a living. Because this is not just a Canadian issue. Pop-up restaurants with HIV-positive cooks and servers will be in places like New York, Los Angeles and other large cities. If this leads to HIV-positive people working in the kitchen, more power to them. And since Casey House is a non profit, they do take donations.

And from Twitter, a poll and an answer.

The answer to the poll is:

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  • Bucky Barkingham says:

    How about a cafe called “Typhoid Mary’s”?

    • Gail Boer says:

      Thank you for being the reason June’s on Tuesday opened. You are in a lot more danger at any fast food establishment than from an HIV-positive cook. The latter practices basic safety.

      • Kauf Buch says:

        You win the virtue-signalling “Delusional Deviant” button of the Day. Thanks for participating!

        When will you and your LGBTIllness ilk be promoting laws REQUIRING all restaurants to hire such deadly sickos?

        • GWB says:

          Now, having given my critique of this silliness below, I have to point to this comment as the justification activists use to minimize the behavior-based nature of most HIV infections. It’s indicative (as Gail mentions) of the very ignorance displayed in the response to their polling.

          First, I don’t think Gail is part of the “LGBTIllness ilk”. Second, while I think she is overly friendly to this effort, I highly doubt Gail, much less any of the ladies here, would EVER support gov’t mandates on anything except militia training.

          I won’t say “take your ignorance elsewhere”. I will say “hang around, you might learn something.”

          • Jennifer says:

            Thank you GWB!!
            People can be “undetectable” which means there is no detectable virus in their blood. Also known as-just like you and me and any other HIV- person. The haters here are sad examples of why we NEED things like this. HIV has been more than a “gay disease” for going on 30 years! Highest new diagnoses? Women of color. So get off your high horses, start acting Christian, and hopefully we can help you expand your world.

            • GWB says:

              I had a long comment, but deleted it to say this:
              I do NOT support treating HIV spread with the kid gloves with which it has been treated so far. The current vogue of “ain’t homosexuality great!” allowed this disease to initially proliferate and still keeps it from being dealt with effectively. It isn’t hate to say that.

              But, just flaming on people as “pro-f****t!” and such is not helpful, either, when it comes to either changing the cultural mores, nor to getting this thing treated properly.

              • Gail Boer says:

                Thank you GWB! I agree we could do a lot better in dealing with HIV/AIDS and my non medical opinion is this: Like fighting the rampant Opioid addiction there is no good easyanswer to preventing HIV and AIDS. And there are political reasons (and sometimes medical ones) that make it difficult to fight these too often man made maladies. People will do stupid risky things. because they are human.

  • Kauf Buch says:


  • GWB says:

    The survey was conducted by Casey House, a non-profit that planned the pop-up HIV advocacy group


    Casey House is taking a bold step forward by igniting a conversation

    No, not really. It might be slightly imaginative, but it is NOT “a bold step forward”. Egad, we’ve had “conversations” on de-stigmatizing HIV for decades now.

    You want to know why 1/3 of those surveyed are mis-informed?
    1) It’s a poll of Twits, fer cryin’ out loud. (Also, note “sharing needles” wasn’t on that list.)
    2) Some large minority will *always* be ignorant, especially of science/biology.
    3) The concerted campaign by homosexuals to make HIV+ some sort of victim status, instead of the inevitable consequence of engaging in certain high risk behaviors. If those activists (with a LOT of money behind them) had allowed actual science and reason to prevail, HIV would be less prevalent and would be better understood by more people.

    Note, they aren’t going to change any minds with this. The people going to eat there are already convinced of the correctness of their position. That’s why they are going – it’s virtue-signaling.

    And, no, I won’t stigmatize people for being HIV+. I will stigmatize them for claiming victimhood if they caught it by engaging in clearly risky behaviors, or they are among those claiming we shouldn’t call out those risky behaviors as the actual problem (and usually using the actual victims as moral shields).

    As to the restaurant? *shrugs*

    • Gail Boer says:

      GWB It is not about victimhood or enabling (two things I find really annoying at best). Simple fact is AIDS unlike TB is not an airborne disease. TB and MRSA are incredibly dangerous because the particles are live and in the air around the person with these conditions. And the irony is the HIV+ cook or server will actually follow the food service training and precautions to a T. The 18 year old stoner shredding lettuce in the back room at Chilis? Not so much. There are outbreaks of Norovirus or Salmonella and food poisoning from time to time. Because a server or line cook or the one who preps did not clean a surface, reused a knife, did not clean the veggies or there was cross contamination. Which nobody knows about until the Urgent Care and ER reports are sent to the county health department. Which has all kinds of restaurant reviews out there and lets just say health department reports are kind of scary. Heck we all cross contaminate at home all the time. The difference is we do not have a disease that can cause all kinds of issues. And being a trailblazer really does mean be better than the norm (at least outside filthy hippie land it does; the Commie named Cafes are nasty germ ridden sewers of filth but I digress).

  • Tecumsehtea says:

    Not sure about the faith that these cooks will follow all the safety precautions/food service training rules — after all, did they likely not get HIV from ignoring safety advice? If they engaged in risky behavior without concern for their future health, why would they be more interested in the health of their patrons?

  • Scott says:

    Well, as far as I’m concerned, it sounds like a bad idea, and I would not go to such a restaurant. Not out of any sort of bigotry, but just self preservation. There are a couple of inaccuracies that I saw, that I can’t help but address. At one point, the Casey House says HIV doesn’t survive on surfaces… as a paramedic, i can tell you that’s flat out FALSE! No, it doesn’t survive as long as Hepatitis, or some other diseases, but it does live for up to 24 hrs. Also, while it’s not an airborne disease, a sneeze or a cough with even the tiniest amount of blood in it (ever get dried out and have a nosebleed while you’re sick?) can definitely transmit it. Same for if someone cuts their hand, and misses even a small amount of blood. As for them being safer than fast food, because they have to, I’ll disagree again. yes, they will probably be under tighter scrutiny, but the stoner fast food worker that gives you salmonella will have that show up, both in your illness, as well as that of everyone else that gets sick, and it’ll be on the news within a week. If this group passes on HIV to someone, no-one will know for 10 yrs, so actually the risk is much higher, because as you pointed out, the disease can be undetectable for quite a while. I do not hate these folks, but i do think there’s better ideas out there.

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