Sakaya Kitchen and Blackbrick chef and owner Richard Hales will undergo emergency brain surgery this morning following a procedure to remove an 8-year-old brain tumor at the beginning of this year.
Hales said he's been having trouble with his vision since late January and returned to the doctor to try to solve the problem. This past weekend, things became so bad he went blind in his right eye. After overseeing a photo shoot for Bird & Bone's spring menu, Hales was rushed to the hospital for a battery of tests that resulted in a spinal tap and news he would have to undergo surgery again to reduce the pressure inside his skull.
"The spinal tap was fucking excruciating," he said. "I don't recommend it to anybody, and it's not even a permanent fix."
Hales was in good spirits when New Times spoke with him by phone ahead of the surgery Tuesday morning. He said he was grateful for all the support he's received since a story earlier this month revealed he has struggled for a decade with seemingly never-ending health problems while continuing to work long hours in the kitchen and open restaurant after restaurant.
"Positive energy helps," he said. "I'm hoping it's not as bad as the last time, and I'm hoping to be back at it as soon as I can."
February New Times story. His issues began in summer 2011 when doctors found a slow-growing brain tumor called a meningioma. The chef experienced severe headaches and vomiting but continued working to build a culinary empire that includes Sakaya Kitchen, Blackbrick Chinese, Bird & Bone, and his latest endeavor, Society BBQ at the Citadel food hall.
His wife, Jenny, posted the following message on Facebook: "Prayer warriors please send us some good ones. Richard Hales complications from original surgery and he's going into another brain surgery this morning to fix it." The Miami culinary community is rallying around the family with good thoughts for a complete recovery.