Autistic cooking students to cater pancake breakfast - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Autistic cooking students to cater pancake breakfast

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Throw on your pajamas and enjoy breakfast for dinner catered by autistic cooking students on Sunday night.

Kids from Pieceful Solutions school will be cooking at "Pajamas and Pancakes" to raise money for autism research.

With over 20 years experience, Chef "W" Reith can make pancakes in his sleep.

But for many of these autistic kids, whipping up this breakfast staple is a new and exciting learning experience.

"They have such awesome creativity. They have the ability to do a lot of incredible things with food and I want them to have fun," said Chef W.

Chef W is the founder of Square One, a nonprofit that teaches cooking to kids and adults with mental disabilities.

Twice a week, Chef W stops by Pieceful Solutions school for autistic children, teaching students kitchen basics, like knife skills and stove safety.

"Typical children pick up things naturally by just watching their mom in the kitchen or things like that. Our students need to be shown and taught, once their shown and taught, they get it. It's just breaking it down into those smaller pieces," said Kami Cothrun, owner and director of Pieceful Solutions.

Chef W says that people with autism are well suited to work in the kitchen.

They're often very focused and task oriented. He hopes the cooking skills he's teaching will help improve students' chances for career success after graduation.

'The unemployment rate for autism spectrum disorder is 90 percent for adults with it and that's awful and I would say it's just because people don't give them a chance," said Chef W.

11- to 16-year-olds are getting that chance as they cook alongside their upbeat and patient instructor.

First learning to mix their dry ingredients, then stirring together the wet ingredients.

The students then take turns cooking the batter inside their school kitchen.

Pancakes are on the menu, but the kids have made a variety of other foods with Chef W, from tacos to bread, and even pizza.

In about a month, they'll be cooking a three-course Italian dinner for their families.

"I would like to have taught them at least life skills so they can have independent living skills and also confidence, that's the most important part of the whole equation, honestly,is building them up as people," said Chef W.

Zoowalk kick-off Pajamas and Pancakes
April 28, 4 p.m. - 8 p.m.
My Az Kitchen
3821 E. Baseline Rd. #J140
Gilbert, AZ 85234
www.zoowalk.org

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