This Saturday and Sunday, I’m volunteering at The Blind Cafe, a pop up restaurant event which has toured multiple cities and will be coming to San Francisco March 21 – 23rd, 2014. Organized by Events by Collette and staffed by numerous volunteers, the event features dinner and a concert with chefs, kitchen staff and performers who are donating their time as well.
The cafe gives sighted people an experience about what it is like to be blind; as it combines dinner with concert, blind staff serve food and escort guests throughout the pitch-black dark experience, which is held inside a space which has been blacked out to simulate being blind.
First and foremost, the event is about community; it also includes a concert and a dinner in the dark, to raise awareness and build the community of people (sighted and blind), helping to promote mutual understanding and conversation.
As one of the performers at the event says in the video, “it’s a little uncomfortable to go in a pitch dark room with 100 people. It’s extra loud, it’s really intense – and you’re at this table and you don’t know… suddenly you have to relate with your wife and your fork in a completely different way.”
Executive Chef of Chefler, Jamie Harrington, said, “it took about 5 minutes of talking of talking with [the event organizer] to know that I should be a part of this. It’s extremely special – a once-in-a-lifetime thing for any chef. I came here and found that it was very necessary to sit down, go in the dark, have my eyesight taken away from me… When you’re a chef, you get to create art that engages every sense.
Food breaks down boundaries.”
One of the blind volunteers, Darian Smith, says,
“One of the fun parts is you get to talk to so many people. That’s really cool. I’ve gotten to meet people and connect with people. It’s a connection that I don’t have very often. Maybe you see them [someone who is blind] walking down the street and maybe you’re thinking about everything else but asking a question.
But here you get to.”
I’m so looking forward to gaining new perspective, having interesting conversations and meeting fellow volunteers and Blind Cafe attendees alike this Saturday.
Interested in volunteering? Let me know if you’d like to join me at jen burstedt [at] gmail [dot] com, and I can connect you to the event organizer.