Food & Drink

Cooking show for visually impaired is now producing a podcast

“Cooking Without Looking” Chef Tom Fox and Christina Panczak-Smith prepare a meal on the television show, which had aired on PBS.
“Cooking Without Looking” Chef Tom Fox and Christina Panczak-Smith prepare a meal on the television show, which had aired on PBS.

Renee Rentmeester created the PBS television program “Cooking Without Looking,” featuring people who are blind and visually impaired as they prepare their favorite recipes and speak about their lives.

Last month, she debuted another platform: The “Cooking Without Looking TV Show Podcast.” It can be heard on Podbean, https://admin.podbean.com/cookingwithoutlooking/episode/list.

“I wanted to create something that could help anyone no matter their race, gender, religion or economic status,” said Rentmeester, 59, a Kendall resident who is also a publicist.

“I came up with blindness because it crosses all of those lines,’’ she said. “But, I didn’t know anyone who was blind. No one in my family is blind/visually impaired. That’s also part of the reason I started it. Most people don’t know people who are blind, and we could bring understanding to a whole group of people that many didn’t know, or understand.”

Annette Watkins and Coco Frey.jpg
“Cooking Without Looking” co-host Annette Watkins. left, and Coco Frey at the Galt Ocean Mile Wine and Food Festival.

Fred Schroeder, president of the World Blind Union, which represents the more than 250 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted, said Rentmeester’s programs are encouraging.

“Your work fits well with our belief that blind people need encouragement to live normal lives and the sighted public needs the opportunity to learn that blindness does not render people helpless nor grant them with superhuman gifts,” he said.

Rentmeester founded the non-profit organization Vision World Foundation and started the television program back in 2001. The program aired on PBS in South Florida and is soon to debut on a popular streaming service. Rentmeester also said future plans include to shoot a show in Cape Town, South Africa.

The podcast features members of the blind and visually impaired community. She said it is a way to tell the world that despite being blind and visually impaired, a blind person is capable of doing the same things as a sighted person.

“One of the greatest challenges in the blind community is employment,” she said. “Employers most often have never known a blind person, so the chances are great that they won’t hire a blind person because they don’t understand that a blind person and a sighted person can do the same things, but just in a different way.”

The programs have helped members of the blind and visually impaired like Sylvia Stinson Perez. She now works for the National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State University.

Civil rights attorney Benjamin L. Crump applauds the programs efforts. He has been working with Rentmeester in setting up a streaming service for the show.

“The Cooking Without Looking TV Show is one of a kind, showcasing the lives of blind and visually Impaired people,” he said. “I see a great future ahead for it.”

In all, Rentmeester said she has a mission and that is “changing the way we see blindness.”

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