In 2016 I left a career in social work to start my own catering company. Little did I know that my life and my business would take a turn towards the amazing. I was a rough couple of years trying to make my catering company into something. Needless to say, I struggled with funding and it never took off. I found myself at a crossroads for what to do next. I promised myself that I would never return to a regular job again and I wanted to keep developing my business to support my skills, disability, passion, needs and most of all help other people.
Back when I was still in social work I had an idea to create a cookbook to teach and inspire people with disabilities to cook and the title I envisioned was The Fingerless Kitchen. The title sounded right for a woman with only two fingers. Cooking had always been a passion of mine since I was eight years old and with my disability, I had to teach myself to do everything in the kitchen and in life. When I first had the idea I noticed there was something missing in cookbooks and in popular cooking shows. No one was talking about how to help people with disabilities. It was always the same you were expected that you can hold a knife, grate cheese, use a peeler, read and follow directions and so on. But what if you couldn’t? Oh well, you were completely left out. I decided I was going to fill that gap. Then I became full of self-doubt. Questioning how I would even do this and why would I give up a steady job to follow this dream. Thinking about my families security I gave it up. All the work creating recipes learning food photography I put in in a drawer for years. Until April of 2018, I found myself at a most thrilling turning point.
I had been given a scholarship to attend a two-day workshop called Play Your Bigger Game with Rick Tamlyn. It was in these two days that I was able to look deep inside myself. Looking at the sum of all my life's experiences and my passions for the future. It was in those two days that everything came together. I found my life's compelling purpose. I would become The Fingerless Kitchen TV show, keynote speaker and cookbook author. I would take my original idea and take it further than I ever imagined and be able to reach more people than with a cookbook alone. Finally, there would be someone in the food world to represent people with disabilities. Getting them into the kitchen, connecting to a community, learning a life skill, and having someone for them to look up to. Showing them that their limitations are an opportunity to do something different and amazing. Equality in the kitchen is what I am going to make happen!
So here I am, I’ve been filming my first series called the No Thumbs Chef Challenge. This is where I challenge chefs to tape up their hands and do a “simple” cooking task in the kitchen like me. Showing that you don’t need thumbs to get it done in the kitchen. I’ve been the cover story for our local women's magazine. The December 2018 issue of the Syracuse Woman Magazine. I have received sponsorship from PathFinder Bank for filming equipment. So that I can produce better quality shows. This is only the beginning and I’m working on so much more to come.
I’ve got some big dreams that I am making come true and goals for my future. I hope you’ll follow along with me as I work my way to having my own syndicated cooking show and invite people of all disabilities to cook with me side by side. I’m going to create a line of adaptive kitchen tools, publish my cookbook, and be a keynote speaker on disability in the kitchen, turning limitations into opportunities in life and starting a business as a woman with a disability.
If you think your all thumbs in the kitchen I’m here to prove you never needed them!
Lots of love to you all from,
Bryony Grealish, Owner, Founder, and Fingerless Chef The Fingerless Kitchen, LLC