The flavour of summer wouldn’t be complete without delicious grilled foods. With open flames involved, it’s easy to think that grilling and barbecuing is impossible for people who can’t see. But as someone who is totally blind and passionate about grilling, cooking, and good food, Chris Peltz from the Blind Grilling Experience podcast has helpful insights for anyone blind or visually impaired interested in grilling.
Losing Your Sight is Not the End
At ten years old, Chris was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. RP is a group of eye diseases that causes the retina to break down. The retina is the layer at the back of the eye that’s sensitive to light and picks up images that will be sent to the brain. RP is a progressive eye condition and as in most cases, Chris eventually lost all usable vision.
After about a year from his initial diagnosis, he began to learn that life goes on despite his vision loss. Ultimately, it was up to him to work hard to succeed. It started when his father woke him up at 4 AM, ‘Literally grabbed the side of my mattress and rolled me out of bed and told me to get up, get out and start working on the farm.’ His family depended on him to break the ice for water, get the hay ready, feed the chickens, gather eggs, and do many other chores before school started.
Getting used to navigating with a cane, opening up about your disability—experiencing sight loss is hard. Nevertheless, visual impairment doesn’t prevent Chris from living an active life. He grew up enjoying the outdoors with his family, farming, fishing, hunting, hiking, and of course grilling. He works hard doing different jobs, encourages others as a preacher, and raises his own family.
Grilling and Creating Content
As a father, he wanted to pass on family recipes and document the times he cooked and grilled with his kids. He started a YouTube channel called Blind Grilling. Being a blind griller, he demonstrates his abilities and shares tips and recipes with both sighted and visually impaired people all over the world. As his audience grew, many contacted him to learn more about his journey and grilling, leading him to host the Blind Grilling Experience podcast.
Even more inspiring is his charity where he partners with other companies to provide a grilling package and guidance to specially selected blind individuals.
After speaking with Chris, here’s what I’ve gathered about grilling blind.
1. Yes you can.
As a blind or visually impaired person, you can learn to grill and barbecue. With tools, technology help, and a little courage to try something new, you can be well on your way to serving up sizzling goodness to the whole family.
Did you know that you can grill vegetables, pizzas, bread and even desserts? There are lots of fun and interesting recipes to try. You can check out cookbooks from the RNIB library on Pocket or use the built in magnifier with text recognition to read printed recipes.
2. Buy based on what you want to grill.
Think about what kinds of food you’re excited to grill. Are you looking to barbecue large cuts of meats, or are you interested in grilling things like hot dogs, burgers and chicken breasts? It may be easier for you to manage something like a gas grill instead of having to build a fire from charcoal. Determine the size and type of grill you want to buy based on your comfort level and preferences.
3. Ceramic grills stay cooler.
If you are interested in barbecuing with charcoal, unlike grills with metal exteriors, a ceramic grill tends to stay cooler making it safer to handle, and there’s less chance of getting burned when you accidentally touch it.
4. Barbecue big to build your confidence.
It may seem counter intuitive, but large cuts of meat are often easier to manage. You can take your time cooking it longer with lower heat. For someone who can’t see, it’s easier to flip one big piece like a whole pork loin, than keeping track of having to flip a dozen burgers or making sure pieces of steaks don’t get overcooked.
5. Indirect cooking can protect you from open flames.
You can set a ceramic plate on top of the grill and cook indirectly. The food will come out just as delicious and you can avoid dealing with flame flare ups.
6. Tools and tech can be a big help for blind grillers.
There are different gadgets designed for general grilling convenience and specially designed tools for people who are visually impaired. For example, a temperature controller grill attachment that you can control with an accessible app. Heat resistant gloves that allow you to hold the meat and flip them by hand instead of using tongs. Talking meat thermometers and timers are essential. Pocket has a smart reminder feature that can help you stay on top of your cooking.
7. Find a way to adapt with what’s available.
Tongs may be difficult to use for someone who can’t see what they need to grab. But you can have several hotdogs or sausages on multiple skewers and flip them all at ones like you’re turning a page. Also, flip multiple patties at ones by placing them in a fish basket.
8. Use a meat probe thermometer and timer for precise cooking.
When it’s difficult to see how the food is coming along, go by temperature and timing. Find out the desired cooking temperature for your barbecue and use a talking thermometer to figure out when it’s ready. Once you’ve done this a few times, you’ll know how long it takes, and you can set a timer for it next time.
9. Medium to medium-low heat will cook everything safely.
Don’t try to speed up the process by turning up the heat too high. Till you have the confidence, medium to medium-low heat will cook everything just fine.
10. Don’t be afraid to try it out!
‘I understand the intimidation that it can have. But there are ways to mitigate those things to really eliminate the huge flames that people think of when it comes to fire and grilling. There are ways to control that. And if you can have a grill that allows you to do that, then I think you should try it. I think you will love it. It will give you a sense of accomplishment. It will build your confidence. And not only will it build your confidence in your own home, and give you that sense of independence, you’ll not only feel productive in your own home, but it will motivate you, I think, to be productive in your own neighborhood and community and at work as well.’ – Chris Peltz
Did you know that you can listen to other podcasts and content by blind and visually impaired creators on Pocket? All you have to do is press the ‘tap to talk button’ and say, ‘Podcast.’ Find out more about our accessible smartphones or contact us at 0333 772 2708.
Find out more about Blind Grilling at: