Cooking classes help the vision-impaired feel confident in the kitchen

Thursday, November 3, 2016
Cooking classes help the vision-impaired feel confident in the kitchen
The sight-impaired can learn to not be intimidated from using knives and hot stoves in a cooking class offered by the Braille Institute.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Like the rest of the students in this class, Bernice Cuadra is sight-impaired, yet she is excited to get back to cooking.

"It's very important to get confidence because I was scared for touching a knife," said Cuadra.

At the Braille Institute, chef and cooking instructor Mindy Leventhal creates what she calls goof-proof recipes.

"If an adult has cooked their whole life and they lost their vision, they're intimidated and scared to cook again, but they still have all those skills," Leventhal said.

The students vary in skill set but each make their own full meal.

Today's menu: Turkey-meatball sandwiches, macaroni salad and chocolate walnut torte.

"We get to eat it after we cook it," said student Robert Lopez.

"Mindy comes up with really fun things for us to make, so it's good," said Eric Hunt of Los Angeles.

The tools are marked for finger reading and the thermometer talks.

They have safety rules all of us could use:

Don't turn on the stove until the pot is on the proper surface with handles turned inward.

Don't take food off the burner until the stove is turned off.

Cut only one type of food on the cutting board at a time.

In addition there's a tool for boiling.

"We put it in a pot of boiling water and we listen for the water to boil," said Leventhal.

The Braille Institute has been offering cooking classes since the 1970s.

There's easy admission. Six people in class, they're offered about every 90 days and they run in the morning and the afternoon free for the vision-impaired.

Known as "kitchen confidence," Leventhal loves to see her students excited about this skill.

"When they made it themselves that gives them the inspiration of wanting to cook more," said Leventhal.