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Tom Fox was a neonatal respiratory therapist and had been for 33 years. Everything changed when he woke up one night after a long nightshift and was completely blind. It took a while for the doctors to understand what happened – he had contracted viral meningitis from one of the babies in the neonatal unit. The disease immediately attacked his optic nerves, robbing him of his sight.
For the first six months, Tom was totally in the dark, but over time he regained about 10% of his sight. Still 10% sight was not enough to continue his career. Luckily, about a year and a half before becoming blind, Tom and his wife Patty had decided that they might want to change their careers at some point and both went to culinary school. Tom came from a culinary family and his mother even had a cooking show on television in the 50s and 60s called “Sugar and Spice with Reba Fox”.
Tom decided to go back to culinary school at Indian River State College to really pursue cooking as his next career. The first time he went, he was fully sighted so this time his main goal was to learn how to cook with his disability. It was here that he met a professor who was willing to take on a blind student for 2 years. Tom honed his skills including knife work, cooking, slicing and let’s not forget – safety in the kitchen.
Tom and Patty started their own personal chef service called Fox Culinary Productions – they’ve been in business now for seven years! When someone calls, the husband and wife team meet with the client to figure out their likes/dislikes. From this meeting a full menu is designed and the team goes and buys all the necessary ingredients. The duo brings all of the pots/pans/utensils to the client’s house, and stays there for 4-5 hours creating and cooking two weeks’ worth of dinners. They’ll prepare dinner parties and cater special events as well. For more information on their business, go to http://www.foxinthekitchen.com.
A few years ago, Tom was approached to have a guest appearance on a local Florida PBS show called “Cooking without Looking” – the first TV show ever produced especially for blind/visually impaired people. All of the hosts are blind/visually impaired themselves, and moderate the 30-minute show which gives tips on how to cook, bake, stay safe, and have fun in the kitchen with visual impairments. It was actually here that Tom learned about ZoomText from someone in the studio audience.
“One of my main challenges was I couldn’t read any recipes!” says Tom. “I was introduced to ZoomText and all that changed – as soon as I saw it, I had to have it. It’s the best program on the market – it was so easy to learn, especially with the Large-Print Keyboard, and not like some of the other programs out there where you have to go back to college to figure out how to use it!”
Now, every time the team goes into someone’s home to prepare their meals, guess who tags along – ZoomText! Take a look at the picture on the right to see what Tom’s setup looks like.
“I just can’t thank your company enough,” raves Tom. “First for the product itself and then on top of it, the technical support team is just phenomenal – they literally have the patience of saints.”
Tom and Patty also teach a Culinary Camp in the summer at their local YMCA. They have 20 kids per week and there’s always a mix of children who are visually impaired with those who are normally sighted. To top it off, Tom’s role on “Cooking without Looking” has evolved from a guest appearance to being one of the full time chef hosts! The show is just entering into its third season and is wildly popular in southern Florida. So much so, that the show is going national this year on the Fine Living Network.
We’re very excited here at Ai Squared because later on this month, we are taping a segment for “Cooking without Looking” with Tom! We’ll keep you all posted on when it will air in Florida on WXEL-TV 42 PBS and nationally on the Fine Living Network so you can watch ZoomText on the air. Maurie Hill, product support technician and fellow ZoomText user, will be cooking up one of her favorite recipes and Derek Bove, sales specialist, will be giving a ZoomText demonstration. Happy cooking!