A Chat with Deaf Chef Sam
Hi Sam! Thank you for squeezing me into your busy schedule! You mention on your social media platforms, that you are a chef!
Could you tell me more about this? When and how did you discover your interest in cooking?
I am a fully qualified Chef. I trained for 4 years at my local college in Basingstoke. Whilst I was studying, I started working for the Four Seasons Hotel in Hampshire. This meant I was able to learn, and earn a wage at the same time, which was ideal for me.
I first discovered my love for cooking, when I was 5 years old. My Grandfather taught me to cook. He was passionate and driven. He was my main inspiration, to peruse my dreams of becoming a professional chef. My deafness did create barriers, and times were hard, because I had to constantly prove myself to others. I wanted others to see that I have the capabilities to do my job and was eager for people to believe in me.
Whenever I cook, my Grandfather is always on my mind. I love all things sweet! I blame my Grandfather for this. Why? He used to give me pocket money when I was younger, and I used to buy penny sweets with my money! I decided to focus on pastry, and I absolutely love my job. I love to make people happy, when I bring something amazing to the table.
How has your deafness impacted your job profession?
Could you tell me more about your deafness?
I was diagnosed as deaf, when I was only 9 months old. I wore two hearing aids, up until the age of 10 years old, before I begun to develop severe tinnitus. My family and I, made the decision for me to have a cochlear implant, to try and salvage as much hearing as we could. The implant does not ‘cure’ my deafness, although it does allow me to hear the world again in my right ear. The audiologists have said that my hearing in my left ear will deteriorate, and soon I will become completely deaf in that ear.
I would strongly agree that my deafness has impacted my job as a chef. I work in a multicultural kitchen; therefore, I must concentrate hard to listen, and process what is being said. I also try to understand various accents being spoken by my colleagues. I have worked with many chefs and colleagues in my career, who have taken the time to sit with me and learn some sign language. This made me feel more included in the team, and to build better relationships with my colleagues, who are keen to include me.
What barriers have you faced in the kitchen environment, and how have you overcome these barriers?
A barrier I have faced in the kitchen is showing people even though I am deaf and cannot hear, I have overcome that obstacle and shown people I CAN cook, and I will take some time to listen and understand what is being said. Deaf people can do anything they put their mind to. They just need to believe it themselves. Self-belief is vital. Language and accents have been very tough to understand in the kitchen. I have managed to work with my colleagues to overcome this communication barrier and asked them write down on paper what they say.
This is not a deaf related question, but I am interested to know what kind of things you love to cook. Tell me more about this!
I love desserts, cakes, and sweet treats. Recently, I have developed a guilty pleasure for fudge. I love making my own crumbly fudge. I have a wide range of different fudges on offer, in my private business which I run from home.
My favourite dessert has got to be a Lemon Meringue Pie. I simply adore the sharp lemon with the sweet meringue!
What advice would you give to a deaf person, who was interested in perusing a career as a chef?
I advise that you just go for it! Reach for the stars and push yourself to be the best. If you believe in yourself and your food, you will go far. People will support you and you can do it!! I will be there to support you all the way!
What does 'Deaf Awareness Week' mean to you? Are you doing anything this week?
Deaf Awareness Week is an important week for me, because it gives me the chance to raise more awareness of my experiences as a deaf person. I would love for abled people to experience deafness for one day, because they would know the difficulties that people like me face. It would be tough, but it would open more eyes, and people would have a clearer idea of what we face in our daily lives. I wish people also understood what we have to go through, to overcome these everyday barriers.
This week I will be posting up videos of some foods related BSL signs on my Instagram, so keep an eye out on my channels.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. It has been a pleasure to chat with you!
If you want to follow Sam’s journey as a Deaf Chef and support his small business, you can find him on his social media platforms below: