Programming Connection

June’s HIV+ Eatery 

Casey House
Toronto, ON
2017

Toronto’s Casey House opened a pop-up restaurant for three nights in November to challenge people’s misconceptions about HIV. Casey House came up with this idea after a survey revealed that only half of Canadians would knowingly share or eat food prepared by someone who is HIV-positive.

Named after Casey House's founder June Callwood, June’s HIV+ Eatery made ripples across the world as being the first restaurant run by HIV-positive chefs. Local and international media covered the event wanting to know more about this innovative approach to smashing stigma. The press coverage, and the online conversations that ensued, highlighted the need for education about HIV transmission. By encouraging people to use the hashtag #SmashStigma, Casey House worked to bust the myth that food sharing and preparation pose a risk to contracting HIV.

The people who ate at June’s had the added bonus of getting to know more about the cooks: as different cooks’ stories of living with HIV were shared at each place setting.

“The stigma around HIV and AIDS is still very real, isolating many patients across the city, the country and the globe,” said Kenneth Poon, a Casey House client-turned-chef. “I stand proud […] to boldly break barriers and end the isolation that I have felt and others continue to feel.”

Kenneth was one of the 14 people living with HIV who participated in June’s. Together, the group developed the menu, trained with Chef Matt Basile and his Fidel Gastro’s team, and cooked for close to 300 people who dined at the restaurant. The event sold out and was considered a resounding success.

Casey House developed June’s in partnership with the creative agency Bensimon Byrne and with the support of presenting sponsor RBC.

For more information on this project, visit www.caseyhouse.com.