An esophagael cancer benefit for Jon Austin and the Jefferson Foundation will be held 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday, April 27, at Boogie Nights at the Tropicana. The event features a raffle, buffet, gift baskets, live music, cooking demonstrations and more.

Don’t back down to cancer. That’s the message chef Jon “JD” Austin is looking to get across at an esophageal cancer benefit 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday, April 27, at Boogie Nights at the Tropicana Casino and Resort.

The event features a gourmet buffet, a raffle, gift baskets and a cash bar. Live music will be provided by Chef JD and his band The Kitchen. Tickets are available online and at the door with a suggested donation of $50. Ten dollars from each ticket sold will benefit the Jefferson Foundation and all other proceeds benefit the Austin family medical fund.

Food for the event will be prepared by Demetrios Haronis, director of culinary operations at the Tropicana, and served at a multi-station gourmet buffet. Some of the food offered includes salads, a carved station, various pasta and Italian selections, crab cakes, chicken and desserts.

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“The funds that go to Jefferson Foundation will help out different sections of the hospital with their daily costs,” Austin says.

During fall 2012, Austin was a chef at Bally’s Atlantic City who had been working in the industry since 1996. After having difficulty swallowing solid food, he decided to go to his doctor, later discovering he had esophagus cancer.

Part of the cause of Austin’s cancer was acid reflux, which wore out the walls of the esophagus and woke up cancer cells. After meetings at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, Austin and his wife Tracey formulated a cancer gameplan consisting of more than six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation, followed by a successful 12-hour esophagectomy performed by Jefferson University hospital surgeons.

Throughout the treatment process, Austin stayed positive and his upbeat attitude was the driving force behind his successful treatment, along with a lot of love, prayers and support from family and friends.

Austin returned to work in September 2013.

“I wanted to put together an event to benefit and raise awareness for esophageal cancer,” he says. “I want to show people that this cancer is real and you can bounce back from it and kick ass. I’ll be playing in a band during the event, so I can show people they can get better after the cancer.”

As part of the show, Austin will be doing cooking demonstrations on some of the foods offered at the benefit. But there’s a twist — he will be singing about the food he’s making on the stage with his band.

“As I make the food on stage, I’m showing how it comes out of the kitchen and feeding the audience,” Austin says. “I’ll sing a couple more songs, a salad song and an entree song. The dinner, show, food and music all go together — it’s B.B. King meets Emeril Lagasse.”


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