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Citation: Yemchuk, A. (2016, May 11). Deaf Chefs. ASL University. Retrieved from http://Lifeprint.com/asl101/topics/deaf-chefs.htm
By Alina Yemchuk
I really enjoy cooking and enjoy eating the food I prepared even more. I particularly love watching the Food Network channel, it has a variety of interesting cooking shows. One show that I constantly keep up with is “Chopped.” The show consists of cooking appetizers, entrees, and dessert and then having to stand in front of judges to be criticized for the food the individual prepared.
In 2013, Kurt Ramborger, “The Irish Chef” made an appearance on the TV show accompanied by Lydia Callis, (one of the finest interpreters in the nation becoming the first Deaf chef to be on the show (Deaf People, 2016). Although, Kurt did not win the competition on “Chopped,” he is a successful chef in Austin, Texas (Barrier, 2016).
Joel Barish, who is a host of “No Barrier’s with Joel Barish” visited and did an interview with Ramborger. Ramborger mentioned to Barish that he grew up loving to play with fire and cooking was the safest way to do it. He didn’t allow his being Deaf to prevent him from pursuing this dream of his (Barrier, 2016).
Ramborger also wrote a cookbook, “You Don’t Need Ears to Cook,” making him one of the few Deaf authors (I Deaf News, 2016). Ramborger’s appearance made a huge impact on viewers, including Hearing individuals who picked up an interest in learning American Sign Language and Deaf people who realized they should also pursue culinary careers. There has been an increase in Deaf enrollment in culinary schools and programs (Deaf People, 2016). Chef Kurt has also mentored Deaf chefs, conducted cooking classes, and encouraged others to pursue their ambitions (Deaf People, 2016).
A Deaf married couple, Melody and Russ Stein, are chefs and own “Mozzeria” -- an Italian inspired restaurant in San Francisco. Melody Stein’s parents owned a restaurant in Hong Kong, therefore she has always envisioned owning a restaurant as well and did not let the fact that she was Deaf stop her (Stein, 2012.)
In an article in the New York Times Melody explains, “Almost everything in the restaurant was designed or built by Deaf people, as is all the artwork on the walls. We hired Deaf and ASL signers. For many, working in a restaurant was a new experience. We learned a lot together and improvised over time. Everyone now carries paper and pen to communicate with hearing guests. Our kitchen has lots of bulletin boards for the staff to write on, to avoid any mistakes” (2012).
I myself had an opportunity to dine at Mozzeria last year while visiting San Francisco with my friends. I was very excited to eat there and just experience something different. Upon first entering, we didn’t have a hostess greet and seat us, but instead there was a pen and notepad which required a name and a phone number. We then would receive a text notifying us when a table was ready. I personally think this is such a quick and effective way to get seated. At the moment I was taking ASL 2, so I was excited to sign with the waitress when she approached us to take our orders. Everything was fantastic and I was so amazed by how smoothly everything was running. That experience inspired me to learn more about the Deaf culture and community. Some individuals assume that being Deaf is a disadvantage but the Deaf community continues to prove otherwise. It is very inspiring to learn about individuals who don’t allow anything to get in the way of something they truly want to achieve in life.
Barish, J. (Director). (2016). Kurt “The Irish Chef” Ramborger [Video file]. Retrieved May 9, 2016, from http://deafnation.com/nobarriers/kurt-the-irish-chef-ramborger/
Deaf People (2014) Kurt “Irish Chef” Ramborger magician in the kitchen. Retrieved May 9, 2016, from http://www.deafpeople.com/dp_of_month/RamborgerYear.html
I Deaf News. (Director). (2016, April 27). You Don't Need Ears to Cook:Deaf Chef Kurt Ramborger Speaks Out [Video file]. Retrieved May 9, 2016, from http://ideafnews.com/2016/04/27/you-dont-need-ears-to-cook-deaf-chef-kurt-ramborger-speaks-out/
Stein, M. (2012, October 13). Deaf, Determined and Sold on Mozzarella. Retrieved May 9, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/jobs/a-deaf-couple-realize-a-restaurant-dream.html
Also see: "Deaf Dining"
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