Cook brings together book auction of big name chefs to raise funds to boost Sunderland kitchen school project for cancer patients

Mark Owens with a selection of cook books he is going to auction in aid of Life Kitchen.
Mark Owens with a selection of cook books he is going to auction in aid of Life Kitchen.

A chef hopes to cook up cash to help a Sunderland project which will help those who have undergone cancer treatment rediscover their love of food.

Mark Owens, from Washington, decided to write to scores of his famous counterparts to back Life Kitchen, which plans to open its own cookery school in the lodge in Mowbray Park.

I loved the concept because I lost my own dad to cancer coming up for nine years now.

Mark Owens

The 51-year-old from Washington was inspired to get involved after losing his father William, who was originally from Jarrow, to the disease eight years ago, and hearing about the work the courses do to help patients who have lost their taste through treatment find new flavours they can enjoy.

As a result of his email campaign, which saw him write off to dozens of television and top chef names, he has gathered together more than 20 books and other items including chef’s jackets, with many signed.

Supporters include Heston Blumenthal, Ruby Tandoh, Michel Roux, Marcus Wareing Mark Sargeant, Angela Hartnett, Raymond Blanc and Tom Kerridge.

A silent online auction has been set up and runs until midnight on Saturday.

Life Kitchen is run by Ryan Riley, who has links to Sunderland, after his mum Krista died of small cell lung cancer aged 47.

She had been affected by a loss of taste, with food writer and stylist Ryan turning his attentions to helping others find a new love of the sweet and savoury.

Read more: Historic Sunderland park building to become cookery school for cancer patients thanks to Life Kitchen founder Ryan Riley

Mark, who works for Fresh Prepare in Washington, said: “I saw the story about Life Kitchen and how people who had radiotherapy and how it teaches them to love food again and that Ryan was looking to set up a cookery school for people to help them.

“I loved the concept because I lost my own dad to cancer coming up for nine years now.

“I saw how chemo and radiotherapy damaged their taste buds and I thought about this idea with the books.

“I want to raise as much money as possible to help Ryan.”

The auction page, which closes at midnight on Sunday, can be found via https://www.32auctions.com/LifeKitchen.