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How a new program is helping to make local culinary education more inclusive

Three smiling people wearing headphones sit at a table in a radio talk studio: A woman back left has dark hair and is wearing a white blouse with black polka dots; a woman back center has blonde hair and is wearing a white and green striped shirt and a black sweater; a man at right has short dark hair and is wearing a navy blue hoodie that has the letters "WXXI" in white text
Gary Pudup
Alyssa Belasco and Jerri Lynn Sparks on "Connections with Evan Dawson" on Monday, June 10, 2024

When a local mother wanted to help her adult son sign up for a cooking class, she struggled to find a good fit. Jerri Lynn Sparks’ son has autism, and was eager to learn new culinary skills.

That’s when a new idea was born: a program through New York Kitchen called Sous Chef Academy. It’s helping people with autism learn about food preparation, food safety, life skills, and more.

Our guests this hour tell the story.

In studio:

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.

Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.