Cooking Up Joy For Others

Lorenzo poses with a dish that he cooked

One morning, Lorenzo Paz woke up with a pain in his forehead. He thought maybe he had had too much to drink the night before. By the afternoon, the pain was worse. “I went into the hospital walking and came out blind,” Lorenzo remembers. “I got blind in one day.” A freak infection took Lorenzo’s sight and put his life at risk. He was in intensive care for three months.

When Lorenzo lost his vision, he also lost his career as a chef. He had run kitchens in well-known Los Angeles restaurants and had competed on the Iron Chef television show. But he found himself scared to use the knives and heat that were the tools of his trade.

A referral led Lorenzo to Wayfinder’s Davidson Program for Independence. “I was so happy to find the program,” he says. “I’m proud of myself, and I’m proud of the program.” Lorenzo’s confidence came back, and he started cooking again. But not just for himself. He cooked for fellow students and helped them learn cooking skills. “He cooked for the staff at least once a week,” says Isela Edior, the program’s adult residential dorm manager. “He made whatever we wanted.”

Lorenzo has fond memories of camaraderie among the program clients. “We got together in our living room. Everybody was so happy talking, eating cake,” he says. “That was the most beautiful time.”

Lorenzo achieved his goals for independence in the program. “Now I’m fine,” Lorenzo says. “A little vision is coming back in my left eye. It’s black and white. I don’t see any colors. But I am so happy.”

According to Isela, Lorenzo is always upbeat, no matter what life throws at him. As soon as he resolves another health issue, Lorenzo plans to return to the Davidson program as a volunteer, helping clients with vision loss learn to cook.

Give adults with vision loss like chef Lorenzo a chance to thrive!

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December 18, 2018