Cooking is a necessity and a pastime everyone can enjoy. Who hasn’t at least heard of Julia Child, Guy Fieri, or Emeril Lagasse? It has also been a favorite activity over Zoom, among adults and seniors, who are blind and visually impaired. We have our own professional Chef Michael to thank for this! Chef Michael has over 30 years of experience from Sous Chef to Executive Chef at restaurants such as Victoria Station in Salem MA and Cutter’s Restaurant in Newburyport, MA. He has taken that knowledge and built his personal chef business, bringing it directly to your kitchen! He creates a menu with you, does the shopping, prepares all of the fabulous foods, and leaves you with a spotless kitchen. Check him out at chefmichaelsme.com.
How does this translate over Zoom to those with vision loss? First, we decide what to prepare on a specific date. Then Chef Michael shares a list of ingredients ahead of time to those who have signed up to participate. This way people have time to shop and make sure they have everything they need for the activity. When the day and time arrives, we all use various methods of Assistive Technology to click on the Zoom link and be together. Some of us are following along with low vision with our screens on, while others rely solely on the narrative from Chef Michael to follow his verbal instructions. He has a natural personable ability of talking and walking us through how to prepare a dish together. Some common tips we apply from rehabilitation services we may have received include: using a reversible cutting board with black on one side and white on the other to create the best contrast against what we are slicing and dicing. There are gadgets such as talking meat thermometers, large print or Braille measuring cups, double sided spatulas for gripping and flipping, and many more, which provide confidence, safety, and independence in the kitchen.
Chef Michael walked us through making chili and cornbread at our last session. People are more than welcome to cook along with Chef Michael, or sometimes participants like to take it all in and absorb the experience. The full recipe is sent in an email afterward, should people wish to save it and/or make it later. We will be cooking again with Chef Michael. In fact, we took a vote to determine what we will make this coming fall. The winner is a recipe for Pumpkin Bisque and home made bread.
Here is an image gallery from our “at-home chefs” of the yummy results, enjoy!
Activities are as much about being social and engaging, as they are creative and enriching. Don’t forget to check out our calendar of upcoming activities hosted by Future In Sight!
Stephanie Hurd began her career with Future In Sight in 2007. Her role has evolved from Coordinator of Volunteer Services to Community Relations Coordinator to her current role as Assistive Technology and Activities Specialist. Stephanie has developed her expertise in assistive technology through study and first-hand experience. She is adept at both technology support and training as well as program design for leisure and learning activities for people of all ages who are blind or visually impaired.