Toronto's culinary community is feeling pretty heavy today after receiving the news that industry veteran, restaurateur and seafood expert, John Bil passed away last evening after his battle with stage four cancer. The owner of Honest Weight had been a passionate, active member of the city's food scene for over 25 years since his humble start as an oyster shucker at the original Rodney's Oyster House. Bil made his cancer prognosis public in the summer of 2017, when he shared that, by that point, he had already been battling melanoma for over two years.
Most recently, Bil had been working on a seafood-focused book while running his fishmonger/lunch counter concept, Honest Weight, which received many accolades since it opened in 2015, including one of the best new Toronto restaurants of the year by former critic, Chris Nuttall-Smith, and being named one of the country's best restaurants by Canada's 100 Best.
We spoke to Bil in June while reaching out to notable Canadians from coast to coast, asking each of them about their personal connections to Canadian cuisine and what it means to them.
He said, "People have fished these lakes and oceans for thousands of years. We are not just 150 years old. Our beautiful shellfish can connect us to our true food heritage; and we should remember, that we are fishing from historic public waters, and we are so fortunate that the first fishers showed us what we had. "
With the outpouring of sentiments coming through social media, it is clear that his impact on the Canadian food scene will not be forgotten.
Such sad news. What a terrible loss. https://t.co/1T2f8h7N8v— Amy Rosen (@amyrrosen) January 24, 2018
Gone too soon. Rest in peace, John Bil. https://t.co/0jpd0V0Koo— Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality (@OliverBonacini) January 24, 2018
So sorry to hear that John Bil @keeponshucking passed away last night. He was at home w loved ones. He lived his life w such joy and inspiration.— Chris Nuttall-Smith (@cnutsmith) January 24, 2018
Heartbroken to hear that the legendary John Bil has passed. He will be greatly missed. pic.twitter.com/bsPkIPERiI— MUNCHIES (@munchies) January 24, 2018
We lost a great one last night. John Bil was a gracious, generous and honorable man. He lived a life of integrity and showed immense bravery in the face of a terrible illness. He was loved and will be missed.— Chris Johns (@ChrisandVinegar) January 24, 2018
Very sad news. John Bil was easily one of the friendliest people I've met. https://t.co/qKraTC2zIE— David Ort (@ortdavid) January 24, 2018
We were so lucky to have him. The kindest, a diamond of a man. So sorry for your loss Fred, I know you were closer than brothers https://t.co/X2g6gxR5dq— Jen Agg (@TheBlackHoof) January 24, 2018