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Robert Pearson

  Accessible Media

02/27/2014

Cooking with Four Senses: Accessible Media Inc's New Culinary Show Focuses on Accessible Cooking

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Accessible Media Inc's new show, Four Senses, showcases the culinary wizardry of blind Master Chef winner Christine Ha. How do blind persons navigate the kitchen?

American chef Christine Ha is the first blind contestant and winner of season 3 of the cooking show Master Chef

Image: American chef Christine Ha is the first blind contestant and winner of season 3 of the cooking show Master Chef.

Our two year old daughter has taken an interest in cooking. She's now discovered that she can get on to the kitchen counter using her new stool and explore the knickknacks. She gets a thrill from stirring a pot or by observing the sizzling frying pan – from a safe distance, of course - as she begins to understand where the food on her plate comes from.

So, how would the routine of cooking be for a person who is blind or visually impaired? If we believe that seeing and sensing the culinary experience adds to the taste and flavor of the food on our plates, then what is the relationship of persons who are blind with their food? In a related post, How Emotionally Accessible is Your Media, I explored how the routine act of watching TV takes on a whole new dimension for persons with visual and other sensory disabilities, especially when watching emotionally responsive content such as sports or music events. My question about culinary accessibility is on the same lines.

It may seem upon initial consideration that a non-visual perspective may in fact result in a lack of recognition of home-cooked food preparation techniques and the culinary tools, ingredients and methods that are required to allow for this. At Accessible Media Inc (AMI) we recognized this may have been the case more than 20 years ago. One of our most popular pieces of content, consumed by our blind and partially sighted audience on our AMI-audio service, is the weekly audio versions of grocery store specials that we have produced consistently over the past two decades. If you couldn't see the specials in the flyer at your local market, then where else would you be able obtain this information?

However, that being said, a few years ago this lack of recognition and appreciation was proven to be incorrect. This occurred when Christine Ha, who is blind, won Gordon Ramsey's and Fox's reality show Master Chef in its third season. Subsequently she published a cook book highlighting her techniques after gaining thousands of supporters who were astounded by her ability to prepare incredible dishes while cooking blind.

On January 24, 2014, five years after AMI-tv started broadcasting on Canadian television, Christine Ha's new cooking show Four Senses, premiered solely on AMI-tv. She is partnered on the show with Carl Heinrich, Top Chef Canada winner and city of Toronto restaurant owner. The 13-part series provides further insight into Christine’s techniques as she works with Carl to prepare dishes with the use of just four senses. The AMI.ca website offers further details about the show, including recipes from each episode. You can watch a preview of the show on YouTube.

As for our daughter, my wife and I will continue to put on a good show for her in the kitchen, as she recognizes and appreciates the preparation of the food she consumes with each of her senses.

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Related Resources

Blog: My Wish List for Media Accessibility in 2014 | Read Robert Pearson's Article.

Publication: Towards an Inclusive and Accessible Future for All | Download Report.

Event: G3ict presents at Zero Project Conference 2014 on Accessibility | View Event Details.