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Imagine that you’re in the kitchen, chopping herbs and garlic for a marinade for lamb chops. The catch? You’re blindfolded. You must rely on your non-visual senses (taste, touch, and smell) to guide you through the cooking experience. You measure spices based on how heavy they feel in the palm of your hand; you singe your arm on a hot oven rack. It’s challenging and a bit disorienting, but for guests of Claudia Folska’s new show, Cooking in the Dark: Connecting Communities through Yummy Food, it’s a learning experience. For Folska, it’s an everyday reality.
Folska began going blind at the age of five. And while she has been literally cooking in darkness ever since, Folska, who serves on the board of directors for RTD, believes that many people are in the dark about where their food comes from. Because she has been without sight for the majority of her life, Folska’a ability to purchase processed, packaged foods or hit the drive through at a fast-food restaurant is limited. Instead, she focuses on home-cooked meals that employ real ingredients that she can recognize by feel and smell. Her naturally curious disposition led her to wonder: Where does that food come from? She explores that theme with her show, which aims to share the compelling stories of the people who produce our food in an interesting and educational way.
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By inviting prominent Colorado chefs like Patrick Dupays and Stephan Poullier (of the recently closed Z Cuisine) to join her in the kitchen, Folska is hoping to shed light on the importance of locally-sourced foods. Each chef is tasked with cooking a meal—made with as many local ingredients as possible— blindfolded, while Folska assists. “I have the advantage as a chef of being able to see what I’m doing and to see the beautiful food we have to work with in Colorado,” says guest chef Tim Freeman of Aurora’s Grand Hyatt. “But in a weird way, being unable to see connected me to the food a lot more.”
Tune in to Rocky Mountain PBS at 9:30 a.m. every Saturday in December for new episodes of Cooking in the Dark. You can watch the first episode online now here.