I was a bad cook when I could see. That didn’t change when I lost my sight. I still can’t cook, but now, I have an excuse.
Or at least I did have an excuse, until that story about Laura Martinez came out in the Chicago Tribune last month. Martinez is 25 years old and attending the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu culinary program at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. And, oh yeah, she just happens to be blind.
“I’d never worked with a blind student before,” said Karine Bravais-Slyman, who heads the institute’s general education department, “but Laura did incredibly well in the kitchen. She showed many students that even with this type of impairment, she could still do better than students who have their sight.”
Okay. I admit it. It’s not lack of sight that keeps me from being a good cook. It’s lack of talent.
I usually champion blind people who use resourcefulness to do things average people do with their eyes, but I kept this story quiet. I didn’t brag about this chef to my friends, I didn’t blog about her here. I was hoping to keep the “blind people can’t cook” myth alive. But then the talented chef turned up in yet another news story this week, and my “in box” overflowed with messages from friends forwarding it my way. Seems renowned Chicago chef Charlie Trotter heard about Laura Martinez, and he was so intrigued that he visited her at the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, where she works in the cafeteria kitchen.
“I was watching her work and saw how she handled things with her hands, touching for temperature and doneness, and I ate her food and it was quite delicious. We got to talking and she told me about her dreams and I said, ‘What would you think about working at Charlie Trotter’s?'”
You read that right. Charlie Trotter asked her to work for him. He’s also offered to help with her tuition. Laura Martinez will go to Charlie Trotter’s soon for a trial date to make sure she’s comfortable in the restaurant’s kitchen.
“He asked if I’d like to come work for him. I said, ‘Yes, that would be an honor for me,'” Martinez said. “I didn’t expect it at all. He’s very nice, he’s very human.
“And,” she said, sheepishly, “he said he liked my cooking.”
I. Am. So. Busted.