Braille Monitor                                    June 2018

(contents) (next)

Chopped Challenge at the Colorado Center for the Blind

At our NFB training centers we push our blind students to go beyond what they imagined they could do. In a world where expectations of blind people are often low, the willingness to push beyond the known is what makes the difference between living the lives we want and just dreaming about them. Many new students come to training never having used a sharp kitchen knife or cooked on a hot stove, or maybe they have recently become blind and lack the technique and the confidence to do these common things nonvisually. Soon they’re chopping and slicing, using a hot oven, and in fact “cooking with gas.” As they graduate, having faced and completed the big requirements, cooking a well-planned meal for dozens, and finding their way back to the center after a drop in an unknown part of the city, they admit that they didn’t think they’d ever be able to do these things. And yet they have. The not-so-secret formula is now part of them—they know how to push themselves beyond simply what they know to what they want to know and need to do. Our NFB training center graduates have succeeded in pushing themselves beyond their fears and low expectations, so their blindness can no longer hold them back.

In April the Colorado Center for the Blind Home Management staff put a twist on challenge in the kitchen by staging a “Chopped” contest. Inspired by the popular TV show, four classes over two days were divided into two teams each and given a cart full of sometimes strange ingredients and two hours, forty-five minutes to brainstorm, prepare, and present their meal to the panel of expert judges—namely, their teachers. One competition, for example, had to create a meal out of figs, stew meat, hoisin sauce, Cheetos, Smarties, dill pickles, and Texas toast. While much of what is taught in the kitchen is about planning and preparing, this exercise is about dealing with the unexpected under extreme conditions and working with your teammates toward a positive–if not always spectacular—outcome. And what happens when the stew meat burns? We won’t give away any secrets, but the broader answer is to problem-solve and press on to the end, because in order to live the lives we want, sometimes that’s what it’s going to take.

His team under the pressure of the clock, Loren McDaniel focuses on coring and slicing apples

Left to right Tyler Cannon, Nick Isenberg, and Annette Wilson present their dish entitled Shipwreck, featuring a life raft of Cheeto-encrusted Texas toast manned by a fig floating above shoals of a stir-fry. Abdi Mumi on the opposing team is working behind them.

Presentation counts for a lot, so Tyler Cannon takes care as he fills bowls for the judges

Tad Stuckey runs beets, cauliflower and carrots through the food processor for a slaw.

Teammates Rebecca Jackson (left) and Ravi Hudson (right) empty a can into a bowl as they prepare their team's sweet potato waffles

The panel of judges Delfina Rodriguez (left) and Dishon Spears (right) lean in for private consultation with Maureen Nietfeld (center) on one class's creations

Media Share

Facebook Share

(contents) (next)