More than a Meal

In a time when food is taking over our TV screens, our social media and our holiday itineraries, a new cooking program on the Gold Coast is teaching people with disabilities the joy of food.

Run four times a week from Hope Island, the program aims to teach both the fundamentals of working in the kitchen and the fun that comes with sharing a meal with loved ones. 

Last month we introduced our Cooking corner where monthly recipes made in the cooking program will be published for everyone to enjoy. However, this month we wanted to give you a bit more of an insight into the cooking program itself and those who take part in it. 

One of the budding chefs taking part in the cooking program is Rhiannon Williams, who thought her vision impairment would make cooking impossible. “This program has been lifechanging,” Rhiannon said.   

“Having a vision impairment, it’s quite scary dealing with heat and it can be challenging to cut, but I’ve learnt to overcome a lot in this program and feel so much stronger for it.”

Started by disability service provider, CPL – Choice, Passion, Life, and run by former chef Kym Isherwood, the program aims to teach participants how to use kitchen utensils safely, but also how to experiment with ingredients. 

“It’s about learning your way around the kitchen, but then building on those fundamentals to learn new techniques and building the confidence to experiment with recipes,” Kym said.

And with more people turning up the oven and getting out the baking trays at home throughout COVID, there’s never been a better time to learn new skills and experiment with different ingredients. 

Since 2019, the amount of food and non-alcoholic beverages purchased at Aussie supermarkets grew by half a million tonnes, with more Australians cooking meals at home. 

It’s this new culinary hobby that the program hopes to facilitate for people with disability. “We know that cooking at home is healthier for us and we have more control over what we’re eating, but for some people with disability, this isn’t always an option,” she said.

“Some people rely on others to make meals for them, and others have never had the opportunity to explore the joys of cooking, but that’s changing with this program.”

With recipes for every meal of the day, Rhiannon is now cooking for her family members and learning more and more about the joys of great food. 

“I’ve learned there’s no right or wrong with a recipe, and you can always experiment with adding different things,” she said. 
“Best of all, my family loves my cooking! Especially my brother. Our favourite so far has been spaghetti bolognaise.” 

And it’s not just Gold Coast residents who can participate in cooking programs. CPL’s General Manager of Services, Kirsty Austin, said CPL runs cooking programs across Queensland and Northern New South Wales.

“Our cooking programs are definitely one of our more popular ones – no matter where you live across the states,” she said. 
“We hope that through our cooking and capacity building programs, our clients are learning new skills, building their confidence and independence, as well as making new friends.”

For more information on CPL’s range of creative, recreational and life skills programs, visit the website.

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Four people standing in a kitchen wearing colourful aprons