Chef Eddie Ribel, founder of the “Calling a Chef” public-access TV show, isn't afraid to make a mess in the kitchen. On Wednesday, he assured his protégés, who attend summer programs at Easter Seals Arc, “If you're not making a mess, you're not cooking.”
In preparation for filming of his show at a special event Saturday in Franke Park, Ribel spent time this week with some of the teens who attend Easter Seals Arc's Dream Teens summer program. Others learning from his skills are part of the agency's year-around Transitions program for young adults who completed or are aging out of high school and preparing for job and volunteer opportunities in the community.
They will be sharing the spotlight with Ribel in the filming, which is 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The event is open to the public.
Easter Seals Arc provides teen and adult day programming and supportive services for individuals with developmental disabilities. Dream Teens and Transitions participants learn life skills that help them live full and independent lives as possible and to obtain employment or engage in community service. In addition to cooking, sewing, reading, computer, music, art and exercise classes, activity options are community outings and volunteer opportunities with community agencies such as Community Harvest Food Bank.
“I really like to cook,” Quinn Joseph, 19, said while browning ground beef for a beef and noodle dish he was preparing under the supervision of Ribel, a graduate of the Ivy Tech Fort Wayne Culinary Arts program. When he's not planning or filming his next TV show, which airs on five public-access stations, Ribel provides his chef services in people's homes and businesses. He also is personal chef to a Fort Wayne family.
“Learning to cook can open some doors,” Ribel said of the skills he enjoys teaching. “Cooking is not supposed to be a science,” he explained to Joseph. It should be fun and creative and not always by the book. But baking, that's another thing, he said. “Baking is a science.”
Joshua Martin, 16, a Dream Teens participant who attends school at New Tech Academy within Wayne High School, enthusiastically stirred noodles into boiling water. Ribel checked frequently to make sure they weren't getting over-cooked while explaining some of the differences in cooking with various kinds of skillets, pans and cooking utensils. He kept things basic, but encouraged the chefs-in-training to think also about presentation of the food they were preparing.
On Saturday, they will help Ribel cook and grill some new dishes for a four-course picnic, including: Tex-Mex bean salad with a creamy salsa dressing; seared scallops with lime cilantro rice; New York strip steak; and ooey-gooey turtle bars, along with Jarritos, a citrus beverage.
More than 120 teens and young adults up to age 30 are actively engaged in the Dream Teens and Transitions programs this summer. These services are available to individuals who have a developmental disability, including those with autism, through a relatively new Medicaid waiver program in Indiana, the Family Supports waiver. Initiated in September 2012, qualified individuals can receive up to $16,250 a year to pay for the services and related transportation costs.