Craig Shanahan has a passion for cooking, and from a young age dreamed of becoming a chef.
At two years of age Craig was diagnosed with cancer which resulted in him losing left eye. In his early 20s, another tumour damaged the optic nerve in his right eye, leaving him with only six percent of his vision remaining. But after two eye operations and becoming legally blind, Craig refused to let that stand in the way of achieving his dreams.
Craig, now 31, has spent the last 15 years working as a chef across Sydney’s hospitality scene, working in the kitchens of some of the city’s most renowned restaurants and even running his own café in western Sydney.
“It was hard getting into the industry. People definitely thought I’d be unsafe or a risk in the kitchen. For me, there was a lot of educating and showing to others that I had my ways of doing things and that I was safe and capable of being in the kitchen,” he said.
It was the many challenges that Craig has faced in his journey to become a chef, that motivated him to share his story in the picture book, Cooking up a Storm.
“The book is a real privilege for me and it’s really special that my story might help motivate a young person to go after their dreams,” Craig said.
“Just because you might live with a disability doesn’t mean that you can’t find a way of doing what you want to in life. It’s important young people know that, but also everyone else in their life.”
Vision Australia research shows that just 24 percent of people who are blind or have low vision are in full-time employment. While Craig has proven that living with blindness or low vision doesn’t have to be a barrier to career or personal success, Vision Australia hopes Cooking up a Storm will help challenge public perceptions and serve as inspiration for children and young people who are blind or have low vision, and their families.
Cooking up a Storm is the second book in the Big Visions series and can be purchased from Vision Australia or leading bookstores and retailers across Australia.
Big Visions is a beautiful book series aimed at children who are blind or have low vision. Each book features an Australian hero, who champions resilience and encourages inclusion. These books aim to inspire a child to live the life they choose, by dispelling the misconceptions and expectation placed on them by society. Check them out!