The kitchen is a rough place to work. Cooking is a high-energy, high-stress job requiring long hours on one’s feet, so when a chef experiences an injury or illness, it can take some time to get back to peak performance. For Copper Crown sous chef Seth Walters, who suffered a major seizure on Sept. 22, the road to recovery could be even longer than most. On Wednesday, Jan. 10, the East Asheville restaurant will host a dine-out fundraiser to support Walters as he convalesces.
The Asheville native’s seizure was caused by complications from his “brittle diabetes,” a particularly hard-to-control form of type 1 diabetes. After three days in a coma in the intensive care unit at Mission Hospital, Walters regained consciousness, but was left with severe cognitive and physical limitations — he even required assistance breathing.
“He had to go through some pretty extensive rehab and basically relearn some pretty basic skills,” says Copper Crown co-owner Kate Bannasch, whose husband, the restaurant’s chef and co-owner, Adam Bannasch, has worked with Walters for over a decade at both Zambra and Seven Sows Bourbon and Larder. “He had to relearn to walk and talk; he wasn’t able to feed himself for a while. It was an incredibly serious situation that was puzzling to the doctors at the time.”
Walters, who is married and the father of four children, has made great strides in his recovery, even returning to some shifts at work. But Kate Bannasch notes that he still has a long way to go until he’s fully on his feet. “We haven’t been able to bring him back to the level of a sous chef yet, because he had to rebuild his knife skills, and he still struggles to remember things to some extent. It’s still this strange, in-between place.”
During the dine-out event, a percentage of sales from both lunch and dinner service at Copper Crown will be donated to Walters and his family. At dinner, a tasting menu of dishes that Walters created at the restaurant as sous chef will be featured. “We are going to treat the whole day as a dine-out benefit,” says Bannasch. “We are just hoping people will come out and do whatever they can for him.”
Copper Crown has also set up an online fundraiser for Walters at gofundme.com.
Copper Crown is at 1011 Tunnel Road. The fundraiser takes place Wednesday, Jan. 10. Lunch is served 11:30-3 p.m. and dinner is served 4:30-10:30 p.m. For details, visit coppercrownavl.com.