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GoFundMe campaign launched to help San Diego native and longtime chef Anthony Sinsay

San Diego-born chef Anthony Sinsay, pictured here at Jsix Restaurant.
San Diego-born chef Anthony Sinsay, pictured here at Jsix Restaurant in downtown San Diego, where he was executive chef until leaving in 2018 to head to Seattle.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune )

In late 2019, the 37-year-old Sinsay, who is married with two children, was diagnosed with a late-stage form of a rare cancer

Chef Anthony Sinsay, a mainstay in the San Diego restaurant scene before he moved to Seattle two years ago, has pretty much kept his battle against a rare form of cancer private, sharing the news only with close friends and family.

But because of COVID-19-induced shutdowns, the San Diego native has found himself fighting a new battle: He was let go as executive chef of Outlier, the Seattle-based restaurant he joined after leaving Jsix, a restaurant in the Kimpton-owned Solamar Hotel in downtown San Diego.

Now a GoFundMe campaign headlined “Save Anthony” has been launched to help Sinsay and his family as they move forward without employer-based health insurance.

“Since being diagnosed in November of 2019, he’s been going through an intense mix of radiation and chemo treatments,” said Thomas Cueva, his San Diego-based brother-in-law who’s overseeing the campaign.

“A lot of people have been very supportive,” Cueva said by phone Friday morning. “But when he lost his job, that was a big hit — a big hit to finances as well as morale. Now in addition to worrying about his health, there are other concerns. Up until now, he pretty much didn’t want to bother people with the news. After losing medical insurance, we all figured it’s time to throw a Hail Mary and reach out and ask for the generosity of the public.”

As of 4:45 p.m. Friday, a day after it was launched, the campaign had raised a little more than $8,000 out of a goal of $50,000.

In late 2019, the 37-year-old Sinsay, who is married with two children, was diagnosed with a late-stage form of a rare cancer known as a primitive neuroectodermal tumor. It is a malignant type of tumor that is normally seen in children and adults under the age of 25.

In a Facebook post Friday morning, Sinsay shared the GoFundMe campaign and said: “The past year has a been a challenging one for the Sinsay family. I’ve been doing my best to keep it together, but I’ve reached a stage in my treatment that I now need help. Thanks for reading.”

Before leaving San Diego for Seattle, Sinsay was a high-profile chef locally, serving as executive chef at Harney Sushi and Burlap before landing at Jsix. He graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena and did stints at Nobu Las Vegas, Viceroy Santa Monica and SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills before coming back to San Diego.

In San Diego, he was known for championing local causes and supporting local farmers and fishermen. More recently, he was among a small army of Filipino chefs who began raising the profile of Filipino food by incorporating the cuisine into menus at some of the region’s high-profile restaurants.

Sinsay, along with Filipino chefs such as Danilo “DJ” Tangalin, Evan Cruz and Kristianna Zabala, were already established chefs in San Diego when the Filipino food movement took hold nationally. Together, they banded together and held Filipino-themed dinners, several at Jsix, meant to introduce Filipino food to the masses.

“Cooking Filipino food is not something I did to be trendy or to ‘put Filipino food on the map,’ per se,” Sinsay said in a 2018 Union-Tribune interview. “I wanted to cook food that I connected to. I wanted to cook food that my kids would be proud of one day. I came up in kitchens where European technique and avant-garde presentations were the standard, which left little room for an identifiable representation of what type of chef I could eventually evolve into. … I hope that the cooks and chefs who are striving to find their voice here in San Diego find it and use it clearly and confidently to show what San Diego’s dining scene can contribute to the conversation of American cuisine.”

Before leaving town in 2018, he said: “I am born and raised in San Diego, so of course, the move is bittersweet, but our families are still very much rooted here, so San Diego will never stray too far from our hearts and minds. No matter where we go, I am still a fat Filipino kid from South San Diego.”

Updates:

4:47 PM, Sep. 25, 2020: This story was updated to reflect how much money has been raised for the GoFundMe campaign as of Friday afternoon.


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