By Neven Maguire

My enjoyment of food and cooking comes as much from how it looks as how it tastes. I realised that wasn’t the case for everyone when I was asked to judge a Junior Masterchef event that the National Council for the Blind ran in the midlands about a year ago.

That was a real eye opener for me and it was my first experience of meeting and working with children who were blind or vision impaired. The Junior Masterchef workshops focused on basic cooking skills and on enabling the children to learn other important skills like identifying objects, measuring, cutting, preparing food and cooking – all things that I take for granted in my job and life. But of course all of these skills are essential to boost the independence of these children as they move through school and life.

This photo shows the group of 6 children in the Junior Masterchef group, with three NCBI staff members and Neven Maguire. The children are all holding their certificates to mark the completion of the course.

I was really blown away by what I saw that day and I can honestly say it was one of the best days I have ever had as a chef. The children talked me through how they did everything, from identifying their utensils, to chopping vegetables and how they figure out timers and working with heat. The kids were a real inspiration to me.

Photo shows participant Daniel at a table with a weighing scales and various cooking implements. Neven Maguire is speaking to Daniel.

So for me, Dine in the Dark is a great way to build on that experience. When I went under blindfold myself recently I was surprised that I didn’t always know what I was eating! I really wasn’t expecting that but it’s such a different experience when you’re solely relying on taste, texture and smell. And of course I could take my blindfold off, when there are thousands of people who are blind or vision impaired who cannot do that.

I then had fun preparing food for my guests as they ate under blindfold, as you’ll see in the video and I think other chefs will enjoy planning their menus.  I tried to focus on taste, textures and smells that would challenge them and I have to say I enjoyed watching them!


#godark for NCBI this November.

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