This show focuses on the capabilities of people who are blind and visually impaired. The program's three hosts - all of whom are blind or visually impaired - moderate the 30-minute show. The guest chefs on the show also are blind or visually impaired. Guests have ranged in age from 9 to 83 and worked in a variety of occupations.
The program tries to show that people are people, and blind and visually impaired people shouldn't be excluded from society simply because they've lost a physical ability. It tries to show that they can do many of the same things as sighted people, just in a different way
Hosts of Cooking Without Looking
Annette Watkins lived her first 13 years in Rochester, N.Y., but considers herself a native Floridian. She graduated from the University of South Florida in 1981,with a B.A. in Communications, and spent many years working in marketing with Revlon Cosmetics, and later as a pharmaceutical sales representative.
In 1993, Annette was diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease. “The experience has been bitter sweet,” says Annette. “After spending quite some time floundering, and trying to learn my new purpose, I was ready to ask God, what do you want me to do?”
“I am really thankful for is the opportunity to be one of three wonderful hosts on “Cooking Without Looking,” says Annette.
“Not only was it always a “dream job,” I’ve had a passion for, but it helps and inspires so many people. There is definitely a need out there for a show like this, and I hope we make it not only interesting for our audience, but lots of fun.”
Annette has a 21-year-old son, Patrick who has recently “left the nest “ and is pursuing his music passion.
Born in Waukegan IL., Allen Preston spent his first 10 years with his grandparents near Toronto Canada. He spent his teen years with his mother and stepfather on a farm in north central Minnesota.
Allen has a BS in Education from the University of Minnesota, and taught high school shop class for eight years.
In mid 1986, he got involved in advocacy. Allen’s now retired and volunteers his time to help several non- profit organizations like Southeastern Guidedogs, The Lions and others that promote independence and dignity for blind and visually impaired people.
“I thank God for the opportunity to see the world in a way few others see it,” says Allen. “One of those unique opportunities is being part of “Cooking Without Looking.” I hope we can inspire you to maintain your independence and stay safe in the kitchen.”
Celia Chacon was born and raised in Chicago,Illinois. She met her husband, Victor in high school. They married in 1973, and have two children.
After her husband moved to South Florida in 1988, Celia followed in 1989 with our two children. Celia worked with a law firm as a paralegal until 1993 when she began to lose her sight.
“During the time I was losing my sight, I felt in a state of depression and not knowing what life would bring,” says Celia. “I was able to overcome this depression with the aid of my mother, husband and children who were and are still very supportive of all of my efforts.”
Celia attended the Broward County Light House for the Blind where she learned new skills and met new people. “This was the beginning of a positive new life.
Celia is a board member of The Learning Center for Vision Imparied Seniors of Broward Count County She is also involved in the arts and craft classes with the Vision Impaired Seniors in Pembroke Pines, FL.
In 2002, a mutual acquaintance introduced Celia to Renee Rentmeester, the founder of Vision World Foundation, and Creator/Executive Producer of “Cooking without Looking” and that was the beginning of Celia’s involvement with the show, and the beginning of a new friendship.
Celia currently teaches blind teenagers kitchen skills. In her spare time, Celia develops new recipes for “Cooking Without Looking.”
Ren’ee Rentmeester, Creator/Executive Producer,
Ren’ee Rentmeester was born and raised in Green Bay, WI. She began her career in TV when she was 17 years old at WLUK-TV in Green Bay, WI. Ren’ee worked in the newsroom as a news production assistant, and was a late night movie receptionist.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire in 1982 with a B.A. degree in Journalism and minor in International Relations.
Ren’ee began working in 1984 for the CBS-TV affiliate in Miami as a Promotion/ad Copywriter; Associate News Writer/Producer; News Assignment Editor; and later as the Press and Community Relations Director/Producer.
A two-time Emmy nominee, Ren’ee’s nominations were for the writing/producing of a special, “Youth Violence: Walking the Line” a 30-minute TV Special about youth gangs in South Florida; and a series of :30 Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for Black History Month chronicling the Civil Rights Movement in the ‘60’s, and the South Florida people who participated.
The American Heart Association awarded Ren’ee for the series of PSAs on middle-aged strokes.
A volunteer for the March of Dimes, she was awarded as Volunteer of the Year for her service to the organization.
In 1996, Ren’ee opened her own Advertising/Public/Media Relations company where she serviced
organizations including the Orange Bowl Committee, a Miami Dolphin player; a wife of a Miami Heat player; Mrs. Florida; and many large to mid-sized businesses.
While running her business, she began researching descriptive TV and people who are blind/visually impaired in 2000. Through hundreds of hours of research, and communicating with thousands of visually challenged people, she created “Cooking Without Looking,” the first TV show for people who are blind/visually impaired. She also created the non-profit Vision World Foundation, the parent company of “Cooking Without Looking” to help disabled people on an individual basis.
Ren’ee has sat on the boards of the March of Dimes; Women’s Business Development Center; the Miami-Dade County Women’s Chamber of Commerce; Save the Children; the West Palm Beach Lion’s Club, and served as a Governor on the Board of Governors of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
She speaks regularly to community and business organizations as well as school children on behalf of people who are blind/visually impaired.
She has a teen-aged daughter, Lauren who sometimes helps on the show.
For more information about Cooking Without Looking,
please contact us here.