Chef's Club

patrick-reagan-150x150.jpgThe Chef's Club is a group of young men, with Autism and other developmental disabilities, who are learning beginning cooking skills. They are learning to read and prepare new recipes, socialize with others and eat what they have prepared. The Chef's Club meets one Saturday per month and has been operating since August, 2008. Currently eight men attend Chef's Club. The number of Chef's Club members has stayed consistent, which only affirms its success.

The Chef's Club is the brain-child of Cindy Comings, a proactive parent to a young man with autism. She felt a need to engage her son and other young men in an experience that was not already offered in Chenango County. The Chef's Club is organized and run by Andrea MacIntosh, a local speech/language therapist, consumer advocate and CSS Start-Up/Support Broker. She oversees the monthly menu, the invitations to club members and the social skills lesson for each meeting.

Not all Chef's Club participants are part of the CSS (Self-Determination) program. Many of the young men, who attend, have previous connections with Cindy and Andrea. However, the young men who have CSS plans, attend this club with their paid staff person. These staff people provide kitchen support for participants and can engage in social networking with other CSS staff people. The participants who live at home get an opportunity to have time with their same-age peers in a relaxed social setting. The more independent participants, who may live on their own, have the opportunity to share their own recipes and cooking skills with other members, who may not have the same level of skill. This creates a purposeful bond between the members. Occasionally, "guest chefs" or other community members participate in the cooking or socializing portion of our meeting. One such community member, Derek Jones, the manager at Pizza Hut in Norwich, provided pans, dough and toppings for our Pizza Day.

The Chef's club wishes to acknowledge the hard-working, dedicated staff people who attend each month. They would also like to give a HUGE "thank you" to the Emmanuel Episcopal Church for their generosity in providing the Chef's Club the kitchen and dining area, free of charge. They also say "thanks" to Derek Jones and Pizza Hut of Norwich.

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