College offers cooking class for disabled students

November 21, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The head chef of Harper College's dining services created cooking classes for young adults with developmental disabilities.

Washing and cutting vegetables, mixing condiments, whipping up smoothies and organizing sandwiches meats are all activities done by students in John Filler's continuing education class. They're getting a chance to learn some basic culinary skills.

"It's more how to teach them to take care of themselves at home, feed themselves," Filler said.

"For the sanitation, we spent really the first week kind of going over things: how to wipe down sinks, things like that. After that, we moved more quickly into putting food together. A lot of this whole class is cold stuff right now. So, it's sandwiches, salads, and we're just started smoothies and shakes this last week," he said.

Filler started this class for his daughter, Diana, and her peers.

"A lot of it for me, was more life skills because watching my daughter, I wasn't teaching her everything she needed to learn. So, she we would wait for us, and if you know we weren't around, she'd just wait to eat. We're like, 'No start making yourself a sandwich, do those things,'" the instructor said.

Students in the class are 18 and older. They are from the Chicago area. Classes meet for an hour and half, once a week for 8 weeks.

"They all understand about cleaning up, safety. So, we always wash our hands to start with. At the end, we clean our knives up. Then, we clean down our cutting boards wipe our areas down," said Filler.

"I learn from John showing us how to we do different spreads, how we do different ingredients, how we put ingredients together in bowl," said student Stefanie Dreksler, 27.

John Filler'ss daughter, Diana, is 26 years old.

"I've been making more sandwiches, pasta salads , chef salad and sandwiches on sourdough bread," she said.

"Their parents tell me that they'll look forward to it now," said Filler.

After all that hard work, students get to create their own meal and enjoy it.

There is a $99r charge for the eight-week course. For more information, visit

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