Cory Parsons simply won’t let adversity keep him out of the kitchen.
Thirteen years ago, the budding chef from Nanaimo, B.C., was severely injured in a diving accident which left him a quadriplegic.
He had been apprenticing in the restaurant industry since the age of 12, but his life was totally disrupted as he came to terms with the new reality of his physical disability.
“But somehow I wanted to get back into the food industry,” says Parsons, 36.
“Obviously with the level of injury I have, carrying a box of wine in a restaurant and working 14-hour days was not possible and is not even an option,” he says.
Then the idea of writing a cookbook came to him and the result is uplifting. His first cookbook, “Cooking with Cory: Inspirational Recipes for the Fearless Cook” (Whitecap $29.95, paperback), is “a dream come true.”
“I typed most of the book with one finger,” says Parsons, who obviously has the kind of spirit that shines through even during incredible adversity.
Then he discovered voice recognition software, which helped him finish the book.
As a personal trainer to others who are disabled, Parsons is a proponent of healthy, fresh and sustainable ingredients.
Readers will be able to savour his recipes including Cory’s Green Coconut Curry Prawns, Crispy Crunchy Crabcakes and Barbecued Tenderloin Steak with Goat Cheese.
His book also offers some tips on tools and ideas that enable the handicapped to negotiate their kitchens without fear.
“I have become quite skilled in the kitchen,” he writes in the introduction. “The adaptions include lowered countertops, plenty of room to manoeuvre my chair and an array of carefully chosen kitchen utensils.”
He also addresses the adjustment he has had to make since the accident in choosing the foods he can eat.
“I have had adverse reactions to some foods which has forced me to change my diet,” he says.
A severe reaction to processed salt has led Parsons to choose Himalayan pink salt which is unrefined.
He is living as close to a normal existence as possible and drives an accessible van with hand controls so he is able to pilot the vehicle. This means he can shop for the fresh ingredients and the food he needs for his cooking.
“I don’t have any voluntary motion of my hands, but I do have 60 per cent in my arms, but nothing from my armpits down,” he says.
He lives and cooks in his own home which he shares with his two black Labs, Bamm and Chase, as well as Scout the cat.
After the accident, Parsons returned to university and studied psychology, recreational therapy and earned a diploma in crisis counselling.
He now works as a consultant for accessibility and personal relations for those with disabilities.
But there is no doubt in his mind that his greatest achievement is his cookbook.
“I have discovered that you can do anything. It’s not a matter of if, but how,” he says.